By Jim Wilkerson
The Lincoln Parish School Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to join the multi-district litigation (MDL) filed against Blue Cross Blue Shield (MDL 2406). The MDL involves a number of cases alleging that Blue Cross Blue Shield executives violated antitrust laws by dividing and allocating among themselves health insurance markets throughout the United States in order to eliminate competition.
While the board is joining the MDL for administrative purposes, individuals working under the School Board will still be allowed to enter the MDL if they so choose to do so. In other words, teachers and other employees will not be forcefully tied to the litigation process that the board will soon be a part of.
For those wondering, multi-district litigations are different from class action lawsuits in several ways.
First, class actions lump all plaintiffs together into one group, and only one member, traditionally, represents that group in a single lawsuit. MDLs, on the other hand, consist of many individual cases that are not tied together but are consolidated under one federal district court for all pretrial matters (MDL 2406 is in the Northern District of Alabama).
Second, if an individual plaintiff and the defendant(s) cannot agree to settle outside of court in an MDL, the case will then get pushed back to the district in which the suit was filed. So, if the Lincoln Parish School Board and Blue Cross Blue Shield cannot agree to settle, the case will be sent back to Louisiana.
Third, class actions typically settle for less because individual plaintiffs do not have as much power to accept the settlement. In an MDL, on the other hand, individual plaintiffs have all the authority to determine whether they accept or reject the defendant’s offer. The School Board, therefore, will ultimately have to make the decision of whether to accept or reject Blue Cross Blue Shield’s offer to settle.
The board has until November to enroll in the MDL.
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