UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health


Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Why was a notice issued?

The Notice was to inform the Class that this lawsuit has been “certified” as a Class Action. This means that the lawsuit meets the requirements for class actions and may proceed to trial. If you are included, you may have legal rights and options before the Court decides whether the claims being made against Sutter are correct. The Notice, which is available in the Documents section of this website, explains those legal rights and options.

The Honorable Curtis E.A. Karnow of the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco is overseeing this case. The case is known as UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health, San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC 14-538451. The entity that sued is called the Plaintiff, and the entity it sued is called the Defendant. The Plaintiff in this case is UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust and the Defendant is Sutter Health and several of its affiliates (“Sutter”).

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2. What is this lawsuit about?

This lawsuit was filed on April 7, 2014, and is pending in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. The Plaintiff alleges that Sutter violated California’s antitrust law, the Cartwright Act, and California’s Unfair Competition Law. In particular, Plaintiff alleges that Sutter included provisions in its provider agreements with the major health insurance companies in California that have had the effect of restricting price competition between Sutter and other general acute care hospitals in Northern California. Plaintiff further alleges that this reduction in price competition has permitted Sutter to overcharge self-funded payors and others for its general acute care hospital services and ancillary products. Plaintiff seeks to recover damages on behalf of the class and to prohibit Sutter from continuing to engage in the alleged anticompetitive practices.

Sutter denies that it did anything wrong and denies that Plaintiff and the Class are entitled to receive any money or other relief from Sutter. This lawsuit is ongoing, and the Court has not yet decided who will win or lose this case.

On August 14, 2017, the Court authorized Plaintiff to represent a Class of self-funded payors. On September 29, 2017, the Court modified the class definition to the one described in the Notice.

Your options as a Class Member and the deadlines to exercise them are explained in the Notice, which is available in the documents section of this website.

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3. Who is included in the Class?

All self-funded payors that were citizens of California for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) on April 7, 2014 or that are arms of the State of California and that compensated Sutter for general acute care hospital services or ancillary products provided to the members of their health plans at any time from January 1, 2003 to the present at prices set by contracts between Sutter and Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield, Cigna, Pacificare or United Healthcare are members of the Class.

You are a citizen of California if: (a) you are organized under the laws of California, or (b) you have your principal place of business in California. For purposes of class membership, you are considered a citizen of California if you were a California citizen on April 7, 2014, regardless of whether you remained a California citizen after that date. If you are a California governmental entity (including, but not limited to, a city, a county, a hospital district, a school district, a fire protection district, a water or irrigation district, a transit or transportation district, a joint powers agency or authority, a public university, a department within the State, a superior court, the Judicial Council of California, or the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program) and are also a self-funded payor that compensated Sutter, you are included in the class, whether or not you are a California citizen.

You are a self-funded payor that compensated Sutter if you are an entity (such as an employer or healthcare benefits trust) that was contractually bound to pay for the health care expenses of your members or employees incurred at a Sutter general acute care hospital under your health plan. You are not a self-funded payor if someone else, such as an insurance company, is the one contractually bound to pay for the health care expenses of your members or employees under your health plan, even if you pay for the insurance. Further, you are not a self-funded payor if you are an individual. Records of Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield, Cigna, PacifiCare or United Healthcare show you may have been contractually bound to pay for general acute care hospital services or ancillary products provided to members of your health plan by Sutter between January 1, 2003 and the present.

If you have questions about whether you are a class member or you have any other questions, you may email SutterHealthLawsuit@cohenmilstein.com or mail your questions to UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health, c/o GCG, P.O. Box 9349, Dublin, OH 43017-4249.

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4. What is a class action?

In a class action, one or more persons or entities called “class representatives” sue on behalf of a group of people or entities who have similar claims. All of these persons or entities are called a “class” or “class members.” In a class action, the Court resolves the issues for all class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the class. In this lawsuit, the Class Representative is UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust.

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If you are a member of the Class, you have a choice whether to remain a member of the Class and be represented by the Class Representatives and by Class Counsel or to exclude yourself. Either choice will have its consequences, which you should understand before making your decision.

5. What happens if I do nothing?

If you meet the definition to be a class member, you do not have to do anything now if you want to keep the possibility of getting money or other benefits from this lawsuit. By doing nothing, you remain part of the Class and may be entitled to receive a share of any money or other benefits awarded to the Class after trial or through a settlement.

Regardless of whether the Class wins or loses at trial, you will not be able to sue, or continue to sue, Sutter as part of any other lawsuit for the same legal claims that Plaintiff has asserted on behalf of the Class in this lawsuit. You will also be legally bound by any and all orders the Court issues and judgments the Court makes regarding the claims in this class action.

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6. What happens if I exclude myself from the Class?

The deadline to exclude yourself from the Class passed on June 11, 2018.

If you excluded yourself from the Class, you will not get any money or other benefits from this lawsuit even if the Class wins at trial or settles the case. However, you may be able to sue Sutter in a separate action for the same claims asserted in this lawsuit. If you excluded yourself, you are not legally bound by any orders or judgments the Court makes in this lawsuit. If you bring your own lawsuit against Sutter after you excluded yourself, you will have to hire and pay your own lawyer for that lawsuit, and you will have to prove your claims. If you did exclude yourself, you should talk to your own lawyer soon, because your claims may be subject to a time limit (known as a statute of limitations).

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7. How do I exclude myself from the Class?

The deadline to exclude yourself from the Class passed on June 11, 2018.

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8. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

The Court appointed the following lawyers to represent Plaintiff and all Class Members in this lawsuit (“Class Counsel”):

Richard L. Grossman Philip L. Pillsbury Jr. Pillsbury & Coleman, LLP 600 Montgomery St., 31st Fl. San Francisco, CA 94111 Tel: (415) 433-8000 Lead Counsel Kit A. Pierson Daniel A. Small Thompson Laura Alexander Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC 1100 New York Ave. NW, Ste. 500 Washington, DC 20005 Tel: (202) 408-4600 John L. Cooper Roderick M. Christopher C. Wheeler Farella Braun + Martel LLP 235 Montgomery St., 17th Fl. San Francisco, CA 94104 Tel: (415) 954-4400
Michael K. Kellogg Mark C. Hansen Daniel G. Bird Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, P.L.L.C. 1615 M St., NW, Ste. 400 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 326-7900 Steven L. Stemerman Sarah Grossman-Swenson McCracken, Stermerman & Holsberry, LLP 595 Market St., Ste. 800 San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 597-7200

Email: SutterHealthLawsuit@cohenmilstein.com

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9. Should I get my own lawyer?

If you choose to remain in the Class, you do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel are working on your behalf in this lawsuit. If you want your own lawyer to represent you at court hearings in this lawsuit, you must pay for that lawyer, except to the extent that arms of the State of California may be represented by the Attorney General free of charge.

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10. How will the lawyers be paid?

If Class Counsel are successful and obtain money or other benefits for the Class, they may ask the Court for fees and expenses. If the Court grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees and expenses will either be deducted from any money obtained for the Class or paid separately by Sutter. If Class Counsel do not obtain money or other benefits for the Class, they will not receive any attorneys’ fees or any reimbursement of their expenses.

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11. How and when will the Court decide the claims in this case?

If the case is not resolved by a settlement or by motion, Class Counsel will have to prove the Class’s claims in this lawsuit at a trial. There is no guarantee that the Class will win or that the Class will get any money. The Court has set a trial date of June 24, 2019 to take place at Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, 400 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA 94102. This date may be continued without further notice to the Class.

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12. Do I have to come to the trial?

You do not need to attend the trial unless you are subpoenaed as a witness. Class Counsel will present the case for the Class Members, and Sutter will present its defenses. You are welcome to come at your own expense. If you wish to participate in the trial, you should contact Class Counsel.

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13. Will I get money after the trial?

If the Class obtains money or other benefits as a result of the trial or a settlement, you will be notified about how to share in the money or other benefits, if you have not excluded yourself from this class action. We do not know how long this will take. Please let Class Counsel know if your contact information changes.

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14. How do I get more information?

You may obtain more information by contacting Class Counsel at the phone numbers or email address listed above. You can also view a copy of the notice and other court documents by viewing the available documents on the Documents page or by contacting the administrator by email at SutterHealthLawsuit@cohenmilstein.com or by sending a letter to the following address:

UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health c/o GCG P.O. Box 9349 Dublin, OH 43017-4249

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