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Three lawsuits alleging violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by employers and their workers compensation service providers have resulted in plaintiff victories during 2012:
• On Nov. 13, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado granted final approval in the class action case of Josephine Gianzero et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. et al., allowing Wal-Mart and Concentra Health Services Inc. to settle a lawsuit tied to their handling of workers comp claims in Colorado by paying $8 million and agreeing to retrain claims adjusters and other employees.
• On Nov. 2, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan erred in dismissing a lawsuit filed by two workers compensation claimants alleging Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. violated RICO. The appeals court said in Clifton E. Jackson v. Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. that the plaintiffs seeking to represent other claimants adequately stated a claim for relief under RICO.
• On April 6, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Paul Brown et al. v. Cassens Transport Co. that several Michigan transportation workers can sue Edwardsville, Ill.-based Cassens and third-party administrator Crawford & Co. for allegedly violating RICO after their workers comp claims were denied or settled.
Settlement of a class action lawsuit alleging that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. went too far in controlling injured workers' treatment raises concerns because it challenges management practices in general, workers compensation observers say.