Hearing set in settlement by Wal-Mart, others in workers comp class actionPosted On: Feb. 17, 2012 12:00 AM CST
DENVER—A final court hearing has been set for next month on the proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit alleging Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its workers compensation providers improperly withheld medical treatment from injured Colorado employees.
The suit, Josephine Gianzero et al. vs. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. et al., filed in 2009 also alleged that the defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Plaintiffs alleged that Claims Management Inc., American Home Assurance Co., and Concentra Health Services Inc. conspired though their claims management practices to restrict or deny benefits otherwise available under Colorado's workers comp law.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Claims Management administers claims for Bentonville-based Wal-Mart. American Home is a part of New York-based Chartis Inc. and provides Wal-Mart with workers comp insurance. Addison, Texas-based Concentra, a unit of Humana Inc., provides Wal-Mart with treating physicians, court documents state.
The settlement agreement calls for Wal-Mart, Claims Management and Concentra to pay up to $8 million to cover payments to a class of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club employees who were injured from Jan. 1, 2001, through Nov. 1, 2011.
After a November hearing in Denver federal court at which the settlement received preliminary approval, a hearing has been set for March 23 at which a judge is to decide on final approval of the settlement.
The settlement also would cover $4 million in attorneys fess and $625,000 for legal expenses.
Injured workers treated at a Concentra-run facility are eligible for up to $520 each, while those treated at other facilities are eligible for up to $50 apiece.
Wal-Mart and the other defendants denied all wrongdoing, but the settlement agreement also calls for them to undertake specific actions.
Wal-Mart and Claims Management, for example, will be enjoined for four years from “implementing, imposing, circulating, enforcing and/or using any written protocol or directives that are inconsistent” with Colorado's workers comp law and medical treatment guidelines, according to court documents.
Concentra, meanwhile, will provide its marketing and sales staff in Colorado with training “regarding the prohibition of dictation of care provisions” in the state's workers comp law.
The settlement also includes $10,000 each for the two class representatives—Ms. Gianzero, who alleged that she sustained injuries while working at a Sam's Club in 2005, and Jennifer Jensen, who alleged she was struck by a wood pallet while working at a Wal-Mart store in 2007.
Both were referred to Concentra for treatment.