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2016 CLIENT CHOICE AWARD

Mark Worischeck, Managing Shareholder of Sanders & Parks, P.C., has received the 2016 Client Choice award from Lexology and the International Law Office (ILO). Established in 2005, the Client Choice awards recognize partners around the world that stand apart for their excellent client service.


ATTORNEY MARK WORISCHECK PARTICIPATES IN PANEL AT THE 24TH ANNUAL ABA INSURANCE COVERAGE LITIGATION COMMITTEE MIDYEAR PROGRAM

On February 28, 2016, Managing Shareholder Mark Worischeck participated in a panel session at the 24th Annual ABA Coverage Litigation Committee Midyear Program. The panel presentation addressed "Lizards Loose in the Courtroom: Representing the Carrier Client in the Age of Reptile Advocacy".


SANDERS & PARKS MANAGING SHAREHOLDER HOSTS WEBINAR FOR ALLIANZ GLOBAL CORPORATE & SPECIALTY

On February 9, 2016, Mark Worischeck hosted a webinar for employees of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (formerly Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company) on "How to Prepare for and Beat the Reptile – Can the Insurance Company Wear the White Hat?"


ATTORNEY MARK WORISCHECK FEATURED AS PRESENTER AT 2015 INSURANCE LAW INSTITUTE

On January 30, 2015, Sanders & Parks Managing Shareholder Mark Worischeck was a featured presenter at the State Bar of Arizona Insurance Law Institute. Mark presented on Workers' Compensation Bad Faith: Defense Perspective.


 

SANDERS & PARKS DEFENSE VICTORY IN THREE-WEEK MEDICAL MALPRACTICE JURY TRIAL

In April of 2014, Artie Eaves successfully defended an anesthesia provider in a three-week jury trial in Gila County Superior Court.  Mr. Eaves represented a CRNA who was alleged to have negligently caused the death of a 43 year-old surgical patient following an outpatient hernia repair.  Following surgery, the patient was discharged from the hospital in the late afternoon and was found dead on the living room sofa by his wife and two children that night.  Plaintiffs alleged that the patient died as a result of breathing problems brought on by the surgery and anesthesia.  Plaintiffs argued that it should have been obvious that the patient was at risk for breathing problems based on his course following surgery.  They argued that had the anesthesia provider appreciated the risks and taken steps to ensure that the patient was admitted overnight, the patient would not have died.  Plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award $3.5 million dollars to the family of the patient.  Mr. Eaves argued that the unfortunate loss suffered by the Plaintiffs was not the result of any wrongdoing and that his client had satisfied the standard of care.  Mr. Eaves argued that an early, post-surgical episode during which the patient experienced serious breathing problems resolved and the patient was stable by the time of discharge.  Following a three-week jury trial in Globe, Arizona, the jury deliberated for approximately one hour and returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Eaves’ client.


SETTLEMENT IN NON-FATAL AVIATION ACCIDENT

In March 2013, the Firm favorably settled a case arising out of a July 2010 non-fatal aviation accident at Phoenix's Deer Valley Airport in which the pilot's safety restraint system failed, causing extreme facial injuries in the crash.


SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED BASED ON ERISA PREEMPTION

In November 2012, J. Steven Sparks were awarded summary judgment in favor of their client, Giant Eagle Group Health Insurance, in a complex ERISA litigation matter arising out of an air-ambulance company's effort to recover more than one million dollars for a medical transport. Plaintiff Angel Jet Services, LLC (aka Angel Medflight) filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court seeking to recover an extremely inflated fee for the medical transport of a Giant Eagle member from Monaco to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After the matter was remanded to the Plan Administrator -- at Giant Eagle's request -- and after the reasonable value of the flight was timely paid by Giant Eagle, Plaintiff continued its pursuit of a variety of state law claims. The parties engaged in a course of hard-fought discovery over more than three years and, at the close of discovery, filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The District Court denied Plaintiff's motion finding no merit in the positions asserted by Angel Jet and granted summary judgment to Giant Eagle on the basis that all of Plaintiff's claims were preempted by ERISA.


SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO SANDERS & PARKS CLIENT BASED ON LACK OF DUTY

In late 2012,  J. Steven Sparks and Shanks Leonhardt obtained summary judgment for their client after years of hard-fought tort litigation stemming from an airplane crash near Prescott, Arizona. Plaintiffs demanded several hundred thousand dollars in damages but, through the discovery process, Mr. Sparks and Mr. Leonhardt successfully demonstrated that their client owed no duty to Plaintiffs as a matter of law. In granting summary judgment, the court found that neither the relationship between the parties, nor principles of public policy warranted the imposition of a legal duty under Arizona law.


SETTLEMENT IN NON-FATAL AVIATION ACCIDENT SANDERS AND PARKS APPELLATE VICTORY ON IMPORTANT PERSONAL JURISDICTION QUESTION

Shanks Leonhardt won an important appellate decision in a published decision issued by the Arizona Court of Appeals on April 24, 2012. The opinion discussed and clarified Arizona's jurisprudence on personal jurisdiction for foreign manufacturers. After the foreign manufacturer sought review by the Arizona Supreme Court, the Court declined review, leaving the published Appellate decision as the final, and most recent, word on personal jurisdiction in Arizona.


SUPREME COURT DECLINES REVIEW OF OPINION AFFIRMING SANDERS & PARKS' TRIAL COURT VICTORY

Sanders & Parks, P.C. is pleased to announce that the Arizona Supreme Court has declined to review the ruling of the Arizona Court of Appeals that affirmed the trial court's ruling in favor of Sanders & Parks' client, SCF Arizona ("SCF"). SCF is a workers' compensation insurance company that did not have contracts with Canyon Surgery Center and El Dorado Surgery Center (now known as "Tucson Surgery Center") (collectively "the Surgery Centers") to provide services to its injured workers at a reduced or discounted rate as other insurance carriers do.

The case, styled Canyon Surgery Center, et al. v. SCF Arizona, 1 CA-CV 09-0408, involved reimbursements of facility fees for services provided to over 2,100 injured workers from March 2003 through March 2007. In its published opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed several rulings from the various trial judges who presided over this matter during the lengthy legal battle. After seven years and five months of protracted litigation, the Arizona Supreme Court has vindicated Sanders & Parks' client's legal positions.

The Surgery Centers were two of five original plaintiffs that initially sued to collect their unilaterally-established full-billed charges from SCF. The Surgery Centers' theory was that SCF is a "state agency," was subject to Arizona's Administrative Procedures Act, and that its decision to retain third-party bill review vendor, Qmedtrix, constituted a "rule" that was impermissibly promulgated by SCF. In pre-trial briefings, that theory was rejected in May 2005 by the Honorable J. Richard Gama. This ruling was upheld by the September 16, 2010 Opinion of the Court of Appeals.

Next, the Surgery Center Plaintiffs continued to seek to recover their full-billed charges from SCF under certain contractual and statutory theories and based on bad faith. Again, during pre-trial briefings, the Honorable Timothy J. Ryan rejected those theories for failure to state a claim in January 2006. The Surgery Centers elected not to appeal Judge Ryan's ruling with respect to the bad faith claim. The appellate court confirmed Judge Ryan's rulings on the contractual and statutory claims.

In July 2008, a three-week trial ensued before the Honorable Edward O. Burke. The case was tried by Sanders & Parks lead counsel Mark Worischeck on the remaining counts wherein the Surgery Centers sought payment of their full-billed charges on claims of negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. With respect to the payment of the Surgery Centers' full-billed charges, the trial court concluded that SCF had already paid the Surgery Centers "the reasonable value of their services, if not more."

At the close of Plaintiffs' evidence, Judge Burke granted SCF's motion for judgment on the pleadings and rejected the Surgery Centers' negligent misrepresentation claims. The appellate court confirmed these conclusions, along with the other pre-trial decisions rendered by the superior court.

In November 2008, Judge Burke rendered his decision on the sole remaining claim for unjust enrichment finding that the plaintiffs were entitled to no more than the reasonable value of their services. He also found that SCF's payments, which were based on recommendations from third-party bill reviewer, Qmedtrix, represented the reasonable value for their services "if not more." The appellate court affirmed Judge Burke's conclusion. The Arizona Supreme Court has now declined to review the published decision.

In the opinion, the appellate court held that the surgery centers "were required to prove SCF paid less than a reasonable amount for their services, in which case they could recover the difference under a theory of quantum meruit or unjust enrichment." Canyon Ambulatory Surgery Ctr. v. SCF Arizona, 225 Ariz. 414, 422, ¶ 29, 239 P.3d 733, 741 (App. 2010). The appellate court confirmed that the plaintiffs may measure the reasonable value of their services either by demonstrating "the fair market value of their services" or "the actual cost to them to provide the services, plus a reasonable rate of return." Id. Ms. Verdier stated: "With the supreme court's decision to deny review, this now holds as the standard for cases like this."

In reviewing Judge Burke's conclusions, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's reliance on the undisputed evidence that Canyon accepts 30% or less from 82% of its payors and El Dorado accepts less than 24% from 89% of its payors. Id. at 423, ¶ 31, 239 P.3d at 742. Stated differently, Canyon accepts less than 30 cents on the dollar from most of its customers and El Dorado accepts less than 24 cents on the dollar from most. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's conclusion that "the payments made by SCF, which exceeded 40% of the billed charges, were reasonable under the circumstances." Id. at 423-424, ¶¶ 31, 34, 239 P.3d at 742-743.

Ms. Verdier, who argued the appeal on behalf of SCF, stated that "reasonableness has prevailed." The Appellate Court rejected the Surgery Centers' arguments at oral argument that their charges need not be subject to a review for reasonableness unless and until they are found to be "unconscionable." Ms. Verdier argued that requiring a bill be "unconscionable" before it is required that it be "reasonable" is a preposterous notion and is pleased the appellate court rejected this notion in a published opinion.

The impact of the opinion reaches far beyond the $4.69M in dispute in the Canyon case. The parties had stipulated to try only those claims that were presented between March 31, 2003 and March 31, 2007. For those stipulated claims, SCF had paid $3.59M and the plaintiff surgery centers were seeking an additional $4.69M. By law, SCF is not permitted to direct injured workers away from certain facilities. Thus, despite this litigation, these two Surgery Centers have continued to treat SCF claimants, thereby increasing what they allege to be their "damages."

Thus, the case has far reaching import beyond just the claims tried in July 2008. Indeed, the ruling has an impact even beyond the claims presented by these two non-contracted facilities. During the oral argument in the court of appeals, counsel for the Surgery Centers confirmed that there are facilities all over Arizona that are not subject to a fee schedule and that do not have contracts with workers' compensation carriers that are watching this case. With its ruling, the appellate court has confirmed SCF's right to subject its bills from non-contracted, non-fee scheduled providers to a reasonableness review. The savings to Arizona's employers who must pay for workers' compensation insurance as a result of this ruling are significant.

Mr. Worischeck commented: "The court's ruling strikes a blow to health care providers who seek to impose their unreasonable charges on Arizona's employers."

To read the actual Court of Appeals opinion, click here


ANOTHER SANDERS & PARKS VICTORY IN THE HIGH-TECH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ARENA

Rick Bryson obtained a judgment for all damages and injunctive relief sought in a patent infringement case. The firm's client in the case is the world's leading manufacturer of satellite data communications equipment and sought to enforce its patent relating to 8 QAM architecture. The firm obtained a judgment for both damages and injunctive relief.


SANDERS & PARKS DEFENDS AND RESOLVES TWO RELATED, HIGH EXPOSURE EMPLOYMENT CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT OF JUST $1

Rick Bryson successfully defended claims of defamation, false light and related claims in employment discrimination related case. After an EEOC proceeding, two lawsuits involving many depositions, significant discovery and plaintiffs' settlement demands in the high six figures and seven figures, the defendants agreed to a judgment and dismissal of the cases for $1.


UNANIMOUS DEFENSE VERDICT FOR CITY OF PHOENIX IN BUS ACCIDENT CASE

Jeff Smith and Robin Burgess received a unanimous defense verdict on October 22, 2009 in a traumatic personal injury matter originally brought against the City of Phoenix. The Plaintiff alleged that she was run over by a City of Phoenix bus, and served a notice of claim for $750,000. During closing, Plaintiff asked for in excess of $500,000. The jury deliberated for ten minutes and found unanimously for the defense.


TWO SETTLEMENTS OF FATAL AVIATION ACCIDENTS

Mark Worischeck negotiated settlements on behalf of the surviving family members of two men killed in separate aviation accidents. In the first, a passenger in a single-engine kitplane was killed when the aircraft struck high tension power lines. Mr. Worischeck brought a lawsuit on behalf of the passenger's surviving wife and two young children, and settled the case for a confidential amount after more than a year of litigation.

In the second case, a student-pilot on a training flight was killed in Oregon when the port wing separated in flight. Defendants vigorously contested liability. The highly-favorable settlement will provide much-needed stability for the decedent's survivors, including his wife and two daughters.