By Larry Teren
About a year ago I received notice in the mail that a certain person had filed a class action suit on my behalf along with thousands of others because the health insurance company we had belonged to had unilaterally and illegally changed the plan we were on. The letter provided a website where we could keep track of the events as well as fill out a claim form to ensure that we would indeed get something out of it. I looked at the information on the website and I figured at the most I could get was maybe $100 or $150. Or if I read it even more correctly, to multiply that amount for each year I got screwed by the insurance company. This could end up being close to $1000. Since I considered this found money, I decided to fill out the form and check the website every month or so.
I recently went to the site and found out that the case had been settled about six weeks earlier resulting in the insurance company having to pay out a lot of money- $100,000 to be exact- to the fellow who had the smarts to file the lawsuit. But that was chicken feed compared to the rest of the payout.
The court awarded cy pres the following:
$600,000 to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
$600,000 to the Chicago Bar Foundation
$300,000 to the Illinois Bar Foundation
$1,500.000 to the American Lung Foundation
By the way, I looked it up and found out that cy pres is the legal expression for “do the best that you can”, meaning that if it is impractical to give the money to one person, give it to someone else even if they have nothing to do with the lawsuit.
The Class Counsel (whomever the plaintiff hired to represent the alleged group of ticked-off health insurance policyholders) were awarded $8,116,544 in attorneys’ fees plus $883,456 for reimbursement of expenses incurred by these attorneys (like sharing over eight million dollars was not enough), all to be paid by the health insurer.
Nothing for the rest of the thousands of plaintiffs in the class suit. *****
It may very well be that all of this is legal. The judge probably ruled according to the facts that were laid out to him. Maybe it is too complicated to figure out how to give $1000 checks to a few thousand people. But, your honor, I object to giving one cent to any bar foundation as well as three times the award money in legal fees to a pack of vultures regardless of how well they finished off the carrion. I guess moral turpitude has nothing to do with what is legally proper. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I didn’t go to law school.
Now you know the reason that:
1. Health Insurance Premiums are out of sight.
2. Lawyers tend to have less of a positive rating than terrorists.
***** In the interest of fairness, I received a check six weeks after this story was posted from the Settlement Fund. Based on my own calculations, it was about only 20% of what I probably should have received. It was still a very nice figure that will pay for much of my gasoline expenses for a year. Averaging this amount and the three cent check I received for another class action lawsuit, I am still ahead of the game as it didn’t cost to join. Now, if I can only make a living doing this….