Aetna's total disc replacement settlement could be on thin ice, according to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Aetna and plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit — Brian Hendricks and Andrew Sagalongos — reached an impasse with no settlement, according to a joint status report filed March 17.
Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Sagalongos alleged Aetna made "inaccurate and inappropriate comments" about the settlement's communications and asked the insurer to withdraw the statements. Aetna refused, the court document says.
Aetna initially reached a settlement agreement for the lawsuit over its coverage of lumbar artificial disc replacements on Dec. 2. On Dec. 14, the parties consolidated a related lawsuit with plaintiff Andrew Howard into the settlement agreement, and that was approved by the court.
Aetna in its agreement said it would publish an updated Clinical Policy Bulletin for single-level lumbar disc replacement, according to court documents. That happened in early February.
However, class counsel is now seeking to back out of the settlement with Aetna's updated policy implemented, court documents said.
If class counsel is allowed to back out, Aetna is asking the cases be "deconsolidated and continue on their own tracks," court documents said. If a settlement isn't reached, the case with Mr. Howard goes back to the pleading stage. For the lawsuit with plaintiffs Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Sagalongos, Aetna plans to file a motion to decertify the class with a motion for summary judgment if a settlement isn't reached.
Aetna is requesting a case management conference to discuss the settlement's status and next steps.