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Opelousas General Hospital Authority v. Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 12, 2019

OPELOUSAS GENERAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY, A PUBLIC TRUST, D/B/A OPELOUSAS GENERAL HEALTH SYSTEM
v.
LOUISIANA HEALTH SERVICE & INDEMNITY COMPANY D/B/A BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA

          APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. LANDRY, DOCKET NO. 16-C-3647-C HONORABLE ALONZO HARRIS, PRESIDING

          Thomas A. Filo Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Opelousas General Hospital Authority, et al.

          Patrick C. Morrow James P. Ryan Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett & Haik COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Opelousas General Hospital Authority, et al.

          Stephen B. Murray Stephen B. Murray, Jr. Arthur M. Murray COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Opelousas General Hospital Authority, et al.

          James A. Brown Liskow & Lewis COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

          Joseph C. Giglio, Jr. Michael Ishee Liskow & Lewis COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

          Daniel E. Laytin Zachary Holmstead Kirkland & Ellis LLP COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          SYLVIA R. COOKS, JUDGE

         This consolidated appeal and writ application arise from a class action filed on August 24, 2016 by the Plaintiff, Opelousas General Hospital Authority, a Public Trust d/b/a Opelousas General Health System (hereafter OGHA), against the Defendant, Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Company d/b/a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana (hereafter BCBS-LA). OGHA alleged that BCBS-LA conspired with Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (hereafter the Association) and thirty-five other Blue Cross plans across the United States to allocate markets, monopolize, and engage in other anticompetitive conduct. OGHA alleged this conduct was in violation of the Louisiana Anti-Trust Statute. La.R.S. 51:122 et seq.

         In the relevant period surrounding the suit filed by OGHA, several anti-trust class actions were brought against various Blue Cross Blue Shield entities under both federal and state law. Many of the actions were consolidated in a federal Multi-District Litigation (hereafter MDL) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. OGHA maintains its lawsuit is different from the ones in the MDL, in that the suit is tailored only against BCBS-LA and asserts only monetary claims under Louisiana law.

         In accordance with La.Code Civ.P. art. 593, OGHA moved for class certification on November 3, 2016. On December 22, 2016, BCBS-LA filed an Exception of Prematurity and Alternative Motion to Compel Arbitration, contending the claims asserted in the OGHA class action were subject to an arbitration agreement. The trial court denied the exception and alternative motion on March 8, 2017.

         On March 16, 2017, BCBS-LA filed a Notice of Intention to Apply for Supervisory Writs from the denial of the exception and alternative motion. On April 8, 2017, BCBS-LA filed a Motion for Stay with the district court pending its writ application on the denial of its exception. On April 24, 2017, the district court entered a Per Curiam, setting BCBS-LA's Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Writ Application for a hearing on May 12, 2017 and OGHA's Motion of Class Certification for hearing on June 29, 2017. On May 15, 2017, the district court denied the Motion to Stay Proceedings.

         On June 14, 2017, BCBS-LA filed a renewed Motion to Stay with the district court. On June 19, 2017, during a telephone conference, the district court denied the renewed Motion to Stay and advised the parties the class certification hearing set for hearing on June 29, 2017, would proceed as scheduled. On that same day, BCBS-LA filed an Expedited Motion for Stay ...


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