CA Federal Judge Orders Billing Contractor to Produce Docs in Surprise-Billing Claim

U.S. Magistrate Joseph C. Spero granted a motion to compel from a proposed class of patients, alleging that their insurer, United Behavioral Health, had underpaid their out-of-network reimbursement claims. The judge found that third-party billing contractor, MultiPlan, had waived all claimed protections in its privilege log and failed to follow an October order concerning the discovery dispute. As a result, MultiPlan must fork over hundreds of documents that it withheld from discovery up until now, which is past the discovery cut-off date. 

The case is LD et al. v. United Behavioral Health et al., case number 4:20-cv-02254, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Four Apple employees and one Tesla employee covered by United Behavioral Health initially filed suit in 2020 after facing surprise billing costs for out-of-network healthcare coverage. The patients claim that United failed to reimburse providers according to the terms of its reimbursement contract. They also argue that United and MultiPlan violated ERISA and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) in scheming to underpay claims. According to the patients, United and Multiplan repriced all the claims based on similar claims in the same geographic areas rather than following the patients’ healthcare plan terms. 

In his October order, Judge Spero stopped short of granting the plaintiffs’ request for a finding of blanket waiver of privilege and work product protection following MultiPlan’s failure to produce an adequate privilege log. Nonetheless, the judge ordered MultiPlan to revise its privilege log and set out a process for the court to conduct a review of documents. 

In his most recent ruling, the judge noted that MultiPlan did not follow his order. Instead, the company filed an unsolicited supplemental brief insisting that the ruling was inapplicable. 

Judge Spero previously sanctioned United in the same case and barred the company from using tens of thousands of documents that it produced as evidence past the discovery cut-off date without justification. 

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