Firm News

Farella Lawyers Win 2022 California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year Award for Landmark Antitrust Class Action

March 30, 2022 Announcement

Farella Braun + Martel is proud to announce that Christopher Wheeler and Karen Kimmey were honored among the 2022 “California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year” by the Daily Journal for their role in the landmark antitrust class action against Sutter Health, the dominant hospital system in Northern California. The annual CLAY Awards honor lawyers whose achievements have far-reaching impacts in law, business, and society.

On August 27, 2021, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo granted final approval of the historic $575 million antitrust class action settlement with Sutter Health, one of the largest all-cash settlements in the history of California state court. The settlement includes ten years of comprehensive injunctive relief that limits Sutter’s punitive out-of-network pricing, requires price and quality transparency, enables insurance products that exclude overpriced Sutter providers, permits “steering” to lower-cost, high-quality non-Sutter providers, and provides for a court-appointed monitor to oversee Sutter’s compliance with the settlement.

The case was filed in San Francisco Superior Court in April 2014 by a putative class of self-funded payors (employers, union trusts, and governmental entities who self-insure for healthcare costs).  The California Attorney General filed its own action in 2018, and the two actions were consolidated that year.  Following five and one-half years of litigation, the parties reached a groundbreaking settlement in October 2019, just minutes before opening statements.

“Obtaining this historic relief on behalf of California self-funded payors required a world-class team,” said Farella partner Chris Wheeler.  “The Farella team along with our co-counsel and the Office of the California Attorney General made for a world-class team.”

Also honored with CLAY Awards as members of the team with Chris and Karen were Richard Grossman of Pillsbury & Coleman LLP, Sarah Grossman-Swenson of McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry, LLP, and Emilio Varanini and Malinda Lee with the Office of the California Attorney General.

Other Farella team members who worked on the litigation include John Cooper, Rod Thompson, Alex Reese, Janice Reicher, Jin Kim, Claire Johnson, Russell Taylor, and Ryan Wessels.

Read the CLAY Award profile here

The case is UFCW & Employers Benefit Trust et al. and People of the State of California v. Sutter Health et al., Case Nos. CGC 14-538451 & CGC-18-565398 in San Francisco Superior Court.

Celebrating our 60th anniversary, Farella Braun + Martel is a leading Northern California law firm representing corporate and private clients in sophisticated business transactions and complex commercial, civil and criminal litigation. Clients seek our imaginative legal solutions and the dynamism and intellectual creativity of our lawyers. We are headquartered in San Francisco and maintain an office in the Napa Valley that is focused on the wine industry.

Cheryl Loof
Farella Braun + Martel LLP
415.954.4433 / [email protected]