The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Atlanta, delivered a key legal victory to several major insurers in a lawsuit brought by hundreds of thousands of physicians who have accused the insurers of illegally delaying and denying payment for claims. The appeals court ruled that the insurers, including Aetna, Cigna Corp. and Humana, among others, can contest a lower-court decision granting the lawsuit class-action status, which meant the complaints of some 600,000 physicians could be heard as a group. The plaintiffs include medical associations in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, among other doctors' organizations. U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno in Miami has set a Jan. 20, 2003, deadline for the completion of discovery and a May 19, 2003, trial start. The insurers' lawyers said they would renew a request that the legal proceedings be put on hold while the appeal moves forward. -- by Laura B. Benko
Insurers get OK to appeal docs' class-action status
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