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Class Certification Granted in UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health

We have previously blogged about a key California case brought by self-funded payers against Sutter Health, the dominant health care provider in Northern California, UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust v. Sutter Health. Last week, the plaintiffs overcame a major hurdle in litigation when the court granted class certification. To remind you, UEBT filed this class action on behalf of itself and other self-funded payers. The defendants in the case are Sutter and the group referred to as “Network Vendors,” which are the insurance entities that put together the provider networks used by UEBT and other self-funded payers in California.

In granting the motion for class certification, the California Superior Court noted that while this case involves complex markets, with layers of services, prices, and discounts, that complexity does not preclude certification of a class. The class certification analysis focused primarily on the issue of “predominance.” The key question here is whether the case involves substantial common questions, such that it would benefit the court and litigants to adjudicate the case as class action. The court found that the case involved the “common issue of whether Sutter restrained enough of the market to harm competition and inflate healthcare pricing.” You can read more of the court’s analysis in its motion granting the class certification here. We will be continuing to follow this interesting case as it develops!

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