DETROIT NURSE WAGES ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT

You have reached the website for Cason-Merenda et al v. Detroit Medical Center et al, Case No. 06-15601 (E.D. Mich). This website will notify you of the procedures to be followed by members of various certified settlement classes as ordered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (“the Court”).

 

The Finalized Settlements

On September 8, 2010, Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen granted final approval to settlements reached with three of the defendants in the case, St. John Health, Oakwood Healthcare Inc., and Bon Secours Cottage Health Services.  

On October 24, 2013, Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen granted final approval to settlements reached with another four of the defendants in the case, Henry Ford Health Services, William Beaumont Hospital, Mt. Clemens General Hospital, and Trinity Healthcare, Corp.  

As a result of these settlements, members of the various settlement classes are entitled to a share of the settlement fund associated with any class of which they are a member.

Final Approval Order of October 24, 2013

The Continuing Litigation

Litigation continues against the sole remaining defendant, VHS of Michigan Inc. d/b/a/ Detroit Medical Center, an entity that is now a part of the Tenet Healthcare system, the second largest for-profit hospital operator in the United States.

Note that nurses who worked at Detroit Medical Center during the relevant time period are entitled to a share in the settlements achieved to date even though the DMC’s current owners have not yet settled.

The Distribution Process

In addition to approving these settlements, Judge Rosen also approved a Plan of Allocation of the monies collected to date.

First he approved the payment of attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of certain expenses incurred by class counsel, payment of incentive awards to the two nurses who have represented the class throughout the last seven years of this litigation (and continue to do so in the remaining litigation against the last defendant, VHS of Michigan, Inc.), and the establishment of a “retention fund” for anticipated costs of a trial against VHS of Michigan.

Second he approved the distribution of all remaining funds (including the interest that has been accumulating on some of these monies) on a pro rata basis based on the income that class members earned from qualifying employment at any of the defendant hospitals. To that end, Judge Rosen has instructed Plaintiffs to supervise the mailing of claim form to members of the various settlement classes allowing them to make a claim for their share of the monies available for distribution at this time. Each member of each settlement class will be entitled to be paid their proportionate share of the monies available for distribution to any settlement class of which they are a member based on the pay they earned during the relevant period. So, if nurse A earned twice as much as nurse B for working at a defendant hospital during the relevant time frame, then nurse A will get paid twice as much as nurse B from the settlement fund.

For the vast majority of class members Plaintiffs have data from the hospitals payroll databases which allow the computation of their pay directly from the hospitals’ payroll data (if a nurse worked for more than one hospital during the relevant period then Plaintiffs have that information and are able to sum amounts earned across multiple different hospital systems). Those people will be sent claim forms which will inform them of the amount that the hospital records show as their pay for the relevant time period. Those nurses can either affirm the stated amount or dispute it and provide evidence to show that their claim should be based on a different sum.

For a small fraction of the nurses in some of the settlement classes, data on their pay is incomplete or missing. Those persons will be sent claim forms allowing them to present evidence proving that they were employed in a qualifying position at one of the defendant hospitals and establishing the amount of their pay during the relevant time period.

The claim form you receive will include instructions on how to either confirm the data obtained from the hospitals’ database or provide your own data.

As noted, for every nurse who returns a claim form and is determined to be a member of one of the settlement classes, they will be allocated a pro rata share of the settlement funds available for distribution based on the amount of pay earned during the relevant time period.

On November 21, 2013, the Claim Form was mailed to the Class Members as authorized by the Court.

If you need to request a Claim Form, you must contact the Settlement Administrator, Rust Consulting, toll free at 866-903-0635, as only the Settlement Administrator can send you a Claim Form. As stated above, each Claim Form contains information that is specific to each class member.

Before requesting a Claim Form please review the Class Job Title List below to verify if the position you occupied is one included in the class and so entitled to make a claim. Also note that only nurses who worked at acute care facilities (so not, for instance, at a clinic operated by one of the defendants) are within the class entitled to make a claim.

Class Job Title List (non-APN)

The Settlement Classes and Claim Forms

There are three broad settlement classes of which nurses might be a member.

The first, and largest group, are staff nurses (i.e. non-managerial or supervisory nurses and non-APNs) who worked at any of the eight defendant hospital systems between December 12, 2002 and December 12, 2006. These nurses will share in a fund of $48,059,399 less amounts approved by Judge Rosen for payment of certain fees and costs described above.

The second group is nurses who worked at one of the eight defendant hospitals between December 12, 2006 and June 15, 2007. These nurses will only be entitled to share in the funds created by two of the settlements, those with Trinity and Beaumont. Those nurses will share in those two settlements with staff nurses who worked between December 12, 2002 and December 12, 2006. The total amount available for distribution to this group, including nurses who worked between December 12, 2002, and December 12, 2006, is $16,487,161 (less amounts approved by Judge Rosen for fees and costs).

The final group is APNs who worked at any of the eight defendant hospitals. These nurses will only be entitled to share in the funds created by the settlement with Oakwood. Those nurses will share in that settlement with staff nurses who worked at any defendant hospital between December 12, 2002 and December 12, 2006. The total amount available for distribution to this group, including staff nurses who worked between December 12, 2002, and December 12, 2006, is $7,183,000 (less amounts approved by Judge Rosen for fees and costs).
 

The following chart (which expands on the chart which appears in the Class Notice) is designed to assist you in determining if you are a member of one or more of these classes.

  Beaumont Settlement Class and Trinity Settlement Class Mount Clemens Settlement Class, Henry Ford Settlement Class, St. John Settlement Class and Bon Secours Settlement Class. Oakwood Settlement Class
Staff Nurse at any Defendant short term acute care facility in Detroit at any time between 12/12/2002 and 12/12/2006 Member of the class Member of the class Member of the class
Staff Nurse at any Defendant short term acute care facility in Detroit at any time between 12/12/2002 and 6/15/2007 Member of the class Member of the class if you were a Staff Nurse at any time between 12/12/2002 and 12/12/2006, in which case your claim is limited to that period of time. Member of the class if you were a Staff Nurse at any time between 12/12/2002 and 12/12/2006, in which case your claim is limited to that period of time.
Staff Nurse at any Defendant short term acute care facility in Detroit, but only for a period of time between 12/13/2006 and 6/15/2007 Member of the class Not a member of the class Not a member of the class
Advanced Practice Nurse or Managerial or Supervisory Nurse (including case managers) at any Defendant short term acute care facility in Detroit at any time between 12/12/2002 and 6/15/2007 Not a member of the class unless you also were a Staff Nurse during some part of the time between 12/12/2002 and 6/15/2007, in which case your claim is limited to the time you worked as a Staff Nurse. Not a member of the class unless you also were a Staff Nurse at any time between 12/12/2002 and 12/12/2006, in which case your claim is limited to the time you worked as a Staff Nurse during this time period. APNs are a Member of the class, but not supervisory nurses.

 The following examples are provided to help navigate this chart:

1. You were a nurse who worked at Beaumont as a staff nurse for 12 months during 2002 then as a supervisor during 2003-2005.

Status: You are a member of all settlement classes (not just the Beaumont class) and so are entitled to share in the funds associated with each settlement. However, the amount of your share will only be based on what you earned as a staff nurse during 2002.

2. You were a staff nurse at Henry Ford from 2002-2004 then a staff nurse at Beaumont from 2004-2005, then a supervisor at Beaumont during 2006.

Status: You are a member of all settlement classes (not just the Henry Ford class) so entitled to share in the funds associated with each settlement. The amount of your share will be based on what you earned as a staff nurse during between 2002 and 2005.

3. You were a staff nurse at St. John but only after January 1, 2007 and did not work for any defendant hospital prior to January of 2007.

Status: You are not a member of the Henry Ford, Mt. Clemens, St. John, Bon Secours or Oakwood settlement classes, but you are a member of the Trinity and Beaumont settlement classes. You are entitled to a share of the monies from those two settlements (but only based on your earnings during the first six months of 2007).

4. You were an APN at Henry Ford between 2002 and 2006.

Status: You are a member of the Oakwood settlement class but of no other class.

In order to ensure that you receive a claim form and any subsequent payment it is important that we have current, updated address information for all members of the certified settlement classes. Any updated address or other contact information for you must be provided in writing directly to the Settlement Administrator at the following address which is also found in the legal notice and on your claim form:

Detroit Nurses Claims Administrator
c/o Rust Consulting - 2249
P.O. Box 2396
Faribault, Minnesota 55021-9096

Note that because of the ongoing process of updating address information some nurses might receive more than one copy of a claim form. You should only return one form (the only exception is if you worked part of the time between 2002 and 2007 as a staff nurse and part of the time as an APN. In that case you will get two distinct claim forms – one that you need to fill out to make a claim based on your status as a staff nurse, and one to make a claim on the Oakwood settlement based on your status as an APN – if this describes your situation then you should return both forms).

The approved Settlement Agreements are below:

St. John

Bon Secours

Oakwood

Beaumont

Mount Clemens General Hospital

Henry Ford Health Systems

Trinity Health Corp.

 

The Court Notice

Judge Rosen previously approved the form of Notices to be sent to members of the proposed settlement classes. These Notices provided a general description of the terms of each of the settlements. Copies of these Notices are provided below. Note that all deadlines discussed in these Notices have passed.

Notices of Class Action Settlements:

Legal Notice - March 2010

Legal Notice - June 2013

Class Counsel can be contacted at:

Mark A. Griffin
KELLER ROHRBACK L.L.P.
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98101-3052
(800) 231-5970

or via:

http://www.krcomplexlit.com/

 
The Litigation
 

The class action litigation was filed on December 15, 2006 against six defendants (Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, Mount Clemens General Hospital, Inc., St. John Health, Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., and Bon Secours Cottage Health Services). The complaint was subsequently amended to include two additional defendants (William Beaumont Hospital, and Trinity Health Corp.) on June 15, 2007.

A copy of the Third Corrected Class Action Complaint in this matter, setting forth the conduct that Plaintiffs allege has resulted in suppressed nurse compensation being paid by the Defendant hospitals as a result of conduct that violates the antitrust laws can be found here:

Third Corrected Class Action Complaint

The conduct at issue, and the evidence Plaintiffs have uncovered in support of those claims, is described in far more detail in Plaintiffs’ Consolidated Opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. A copy of that brief is available below:

Plaintiffs' Legal Memo

A copy of the two Reports submitted by Prof. Orley Ashenfelter, Professor of Economics at Princeton University, detailing how the conduct described in the complaint and in the summary judgment opposition, caused harm to Detroit hospital nurses and quantifying that harm, is available below:

Ashenfelter Report
Ashenfelter Rebuttal Report

Copies of the evidence uncovered regarding defendants’ conduct as summarized in Plaintiffs’ summary judgment opposition is available below:

Exhibits to Plaintiffs' Legal Memo
Exhibits 1-30
Exhibits 31-46G
Exhibits 47-57B
Exhibits 58A-69D
Exhibits 70-80B
Exhibits 80C-97
Exhibits 98-142
Exhibits 143-167A
Exhibits 167B-191D
Exhibits 192A-208

Attachments to Plaintiffs' Legal Memo
Attachment A-EE
Attachment FF-EEE

Vistnes Report

As noted above, litigation continues against the one remaining defendant, VHS of Michigan, Inc., d/b/a Detroit Medical Center, a facility owned and operated by Tenet Healthcare.

As to that litigation, Judge Rosen has certified a class of staff nurses who Ms. Cason-Merenda and Mr. Suhre will represent at the trial. VHS has asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to review that decision. Judge Rosen has also denied Defendants’ motion seeking to have that case summarily dismissed prior to trial (Judge Rosen did dismiss Count I of the above-mentioned Complaint, but Count II of the Complaint is proceeding to trial). Finally, Judge Rosen has denied a motion seeking to exclude the testimony of Professor Orley Ashenfelter, Professor of Economics at Princeton University who will present testimony at trial demonstrating how the alleged conspiracy injured Detroit hospital nurses and quantifying the injury suffered.

Once any appeal of Judge Rosen’s decision to certify the class is resolved, and assuming Judge Rosen’s ruling is upheld, Plaintiffs will ask the Court to approve a Notice to be sent to all members of the class describing your rights in connection with the upcoming trial against Tenet Healthcare d/b/a Detroit Medical Center.

Further details of this litigation and the various Orders issued by the Court can be found at http://www.krcomplexlit.com/cases/detroit-nurse-wages.

 

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