A judge has denied a motion that would have allowed a class-action lawsuit against Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic to be joined with part of an antitrust suit waiting to be retried.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison, Wis., turned down the request by attorneys for Henry and Joann Rozema of Marshfield, who filed the class action in July.
They contended the clinic and its HMO overcharged them and thousands of other patients by creating an uneven healthcare playing field in central and northern Wisconsin.
Crabb's ruling means the suits will be tried separately and on their own merits, said Reed Hall, the clinic's general counsel.
"We'd requested it be denied. We are pleased," Hall said. "We think the cases are so dissimilar that they should be tried separately."
Lawyers for the Rozemas claim an agreement the clinic and its HMO, Security Health Plan, had with a Wausau, Wis.-based HMO forced them to pay excessive amounts for healthcare services.
A federal appeals court last year threw out most of a monopoly lawsuit brought against the clinic by Blue Cross and Blue Shield United of Wisconsin.
But the court upheld one 1994 jury finding that the clinic's agreement since the late 1980s with the Wausau HMO, North Central Health Protection Plan, amounted to an illegal division of markets.
The court ordered that piece of the case to be retried at the district court level to determine damages, if any, owed to the Blues because of the agreement.
That trial is now scheduled for December in Crabb's court.
A second class-action lawsuit similar to the Rozemas' was filed last month by attorneys for Loyal, Wis., residents Lawrence Halida and his wife; Mark McKay, who owns a Minocqua sporting goods store; and the town of Mercer Sanitary District.