A Medical Device Daily

Medtronic (Minneapolis) reported results from a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals review of a December 2007 patent infringement verdict regarding the Vertex line of multiaxial screws, which are no longer on the market. The appeals court upheld the verdict of patent infringement, but reversed a substantial portion of the damages award to DePuy Spine (Raynham, Massachusetts).

The appeals court also reversed a sanctions determination against Medtronic, finding that it was legally incorrect and could not be sustained. The court affirmed an award of $149.1 million in lost profits, but eliminated another $77.2 million in damages to DePuy Spine, along with another nearly $10.5 million in sanctions and attorneys' fees.

In other legalities:

A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Georgia surgery centers against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa; Atlanta) claims the state's largest health benefits provider has discouraged visits to out-of-network providers by reimbursing procedures at a tiny fraction of "usual and customary" charges.

The class of plaintiffs is represented by Butler, Wooten and Fryhofer, with offices in Atlanta and Columbus, and J. Tom Morgan of Decatur.

The suit was filed against Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. According to the suit, BCBSGa health plan members paid higher premiums in exchange for the flexibility to receive coverage for care from providers who are not part of the plan's preferred network.

The suit alleges that BCBSGa has targeted these out-of-network providers, including outpatient non-hospital providers of surgical services, known as ambulatory surgery centers, for a drastic and unprecedented slash in reimbursement to a mere fraction of usual and customary charges.

These actions violate federal and state laws protecting patients and providers, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield's own contracts, according to the suit. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages for BCBSGa's failure to pay the contracted reimbursement rate and injunctive relief to require BCBSGa to honor its agreements. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division. The case is pending before Judge Ashley Royal.