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Lead counsel chosen in Blue Cross and Blue Shield antitrust litigation

(Reuters) - A federal judge overseeing the massive consolidated antitrust litigation against the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its 38 member health plans has selected lawyers to lead the case for the plaintiffs.

At a hearing on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Proctor in Birmingham, Alabama, appointed David Boies of Boies, Schiller& Flexner and Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld to lead a class of health plan subscribers, according to William Isaacson of Boies Schiller who attended the hearing. Proctor also named Joe Whatley and Edith Kallas of WhatleyKallas to lead a class of health providers.

The appointments were made on the recommendation of a special master in the case, Edgar Gentle of Gentle, Turner, Sexton, Debrosse & Harbison, who interviewed candidates for the lead positions.

The consolidated litigation involves more than two dozen lawsuits filed by plan subscribers and healthcare providers alleging that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member plans divided the U.S. healthcare market into geographical areas that allowed plans to avoid competing with one another.

Plaintiffs are seeking an order to prevent the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association from restricting competition among member plans in certain states. Plaintiffs are also asking for three times the amount of their actual damages.

Isaacson said the plaintiffs have been given 45 days to file a consolidated amended complaint.

A spokesman for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has previously said the litigation has no merit.

The lead counsel appointments were first reported by the Birmingham Business Journal.

The case is In Re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Alabama, No. 13-20000.

For subscriber plaintiffs: David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner and Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld.

For health provider plaintiffs: Joe Whatley and Edith Kallas of WhatleyKallas.

For Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association: David Zott and Daniel Laytin of Kirkland & Ellis.

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2013/04_-_April/Lead_counsel_chosen_in_Blue_Cross_and_Blue_Shield_antitrust_litigation/