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Cima v. WellPoint Health Networks

June 18, 2008

GREG CIMA, ET AL., INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WELLPOINT HEALTH NETWORKS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Order Denying Class Certification (Doc. 197). Defendants have responded (Doc. 198) and Plaintiffs have replied (Doc. 202). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES the motion.

BACKGROUND

As the Court has discussed in previous orders outlining the nature of the claims and the procedural history of this case, Plaintiffs are former holders of health insurance policies issued through defendant RightCHOICE Insurance Company and/or its parent corporation defendant RightCHOICE Managed Care, Inc. (hereinafter, collectively, "RightCHOICE"). Plaintiffs allege that in 2001 Defendant WellPoint Health Networks, Inc., ("WellPoint") acquired RightCHOICE through a merger from which RightCHOICE emerged as a wholly-owned subsidiary of WellPoint. Plaintiffs contend that, at the time WellPoint acquired RightCHOICE, WellPoint represented in a "Form A" filing with the Illinois Department of Insurance ("IDOI") that it had no plans to make material changes in RightCHOICE's business. However, in reality, WellPoint intended to cause, and did cause, RightCHOICE to withdraw from the Illinois insurance market.

As a result of the market withdrawal, RightCHOICE insureds were forced by WellPoint to convert to more expensive policies issued through Defendants Unicare National Services, Inc., Unicare Illinois Services, Inc., and Unicare Health Insurance Company of the Midwest, (hereinafter, collectively, "Unicare") which are Illinois subsidiaries of WellPoint. RightCHOICE insureds who could not afford to convert to Unicare policies were compelled to seek coverage through other carriers or else do without health insurance.

The operative complaint in this case alleges that the market withdrawal and conversion scheme executed by WellPoint with respect to RightCHOICE policyholders constitutes a breach of contract, because the withdrawal and conversion violated the renewability provisions of RightCHOICE policies, which incorporated provisions of the Illinois Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA"), 215 ILCS 97/1-97/99. The complaint also alleges that the withdrawal and conversion scheme constitutes an unfair trade practice under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act ("ICFA"), 815 ILCS 505/1-505/12.

The plaintiffs moved for certification of a class of Illinois RightCHOICE policyholders, defined as "all persons who were RightCHOICE individual or group health insurance policyholders at the time of the notice of the conversion scheme who owned health insurance policies issued by RightCHOICE, which were either (a) converted into Unicare policies, or (b) discontinued by the insurer after the merger of WellPoint and RightCHOICE." The Court determined that although Plaintiffs met the requirements of Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, they could not meet one of the requirements of Rule 23(b). Therefore, the Court held, class certification was inappropriate. Plaintiffs have moved for reconsideration*fn1 of the Order denying class certification, contending that it rests on misconceptions which Plaintiffs undertake to correct.

ANALYSIS

Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contain express provisions governing reconsideration of final orders and judgments, reconsideration of interlocutory decisions "is a matter of a district court's inherent power." Koelling v. Livesay, 239 F.R.D. 517, 519 (S.D. Ill. 2006). See also Canon U.S.A, Inc. v. Nippon Liner Sys., Ltd., No. 90C 7350, 1992 WL 137406, at *1 (N.D. Ill. June 2, 1992); Giguere v. Vulcan Materials Co., No. 87 C 7043, 1988 WL 107387, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 13, 1988). Such motions "serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Zurich Capital Mkts. Inc. v. Coglianese, 383 F. Supp. 2d 1041, 1045 (N.D. Ill. 2005) (quoting Publishers Res., Inc. v. Walker-Davis Publ'ns, Inc., 762 F.2d 557, 561 (7th Cir. 1985)). Reconsideration of an interlocutory order may be granted where: "the court has misunderstood a party; the court has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the court by the parties; the court has made an error of apprehension (not of reasoning); a significant change in the law has occurred; or significant new facts have been discovered." Wilson v. Cahokia Sch. Dist. # 187, 470 F. Supp. 2d 897, 913 (S.D. Ill. 2007) (collecting cases).

Reconsideration of an interlocutory order is committed to a court's sound discretion. See Harrisonville Tel. Co. v. Illinois Commerce Comm'n, 472 F. Supp. 2d 1071, 1074 (S.D. Ill. 2006); IMI Norgren, Inc. v. D & D Tooling & Mfg., Inc., No. 00 C 5789, 2003 WL 40499, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 6, 2003); Fisher v. National R.R. Passenger Corp., 152 F.R.D. 145, 149 (S.D. Ind. 1993). Further, "[m]otions for reconsideration generally are not encouraged." Johnson v. City of Kankakee, No. 04-2009, 2007 WL 1431874, at *1 (C.D. Ill. May 11, 2007) (quoting Wilson, 470 F. Supp. 2d at 913). See also Automatic Liquid Packaging, Inc. v. Dominik, No. 86 C 5595, 1987 WL 26149, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 2, 1987). This is because, "[i]n general, a district court's rulings 'are not intended as mere first drafts, subject to revision and reconsideration at a litigant's pleasure,' and 'ill-founded requests for reconsideration of matters previously decided . . . needlessly take the court's attention from current matters and visit inequity upon opponents who, prevailing in an earlier proceeding, must nevertheless defend their position again and again.'" Harrisonville Tel. Co., 472 F. Supp. 2d at 1074 (quoting Berger v. Xerox Ret. Income Guar. Plan, 231 F. Supp. 2d 804, 820 (S.D. Ill. 2002)). See also Asllani v. Board of Educ. of City of Chicago, 845 F. Supp. 1209, 1226 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (noting that, as a rule, motions for reconsideration "do nothing but express dissatisfaction with a prior ruling and ask the court to change its mind").

I. CERTIFICATION UNDER 23(b)(2)

Plaintiffs contend that the Court's denial of class certification under Rule 23(b)(2) was due to the Court's erroneous determination that the relief they are requesting is principally monetary damages, rather than equitable relief. Plaintiffs refer to this as an "understandable misconception" on the part of the Court. They undertake to clear up this misconception by rehashing the arguments they made in their motion for class certification. Plaintiffs's arguments as to why the Court should view the relief they request as equitable in nature were considered and rejected by the Court when it made the initial determination not to certify the class. Plaintiffs do not assert that the Court misunderstood the facts, but that the Court's analysis of the facts was erroneous. This is an improper basis on which to move for reconsideration.

II. CERTIFICATION UNDER RULE 23(b)(3)

The Court denied class certification under Rule 23(b)(3) as well. In holding that Plaintiffs could not show that common questions predominate over individual ones, the Court pointed to the probable need to inquire into the individual terms of thousands of separate insurance policies. In their motion, Plaintiffs contend that the Court is mistaken as to the facts. They contend that the Court need not look to the individual policies in order to determine if Defendants breached those policies. The Court's initial Order referred to this contention as ...


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