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Friday, December 14, 2007

A verdict with teeth in it in Hennepin County

By all accounts, that was a stunning jury verdict in Hennepin County yesterday.

In case you missed it, a Hennepin County jury awarded a group of 115 Twin Cities dentists $130.6 million in their suit against Massachusetts-based American Dental Partners Inc. That's right, 130.6 million. Holy molars!

According to the story in today's Star Tribune, the dentists had accused the company -- to which they had outsourced most of the administrative side of the business -- of overstepping its legal authority and granting itself grossly excessive fees.The jury agreed, finding the company liable for $88.3 million in compensatory damages, and then also added another $42.3 million in punitive damages. (Click here for more.)

Kudos to the local law firm of Anthony, Ostlund & Baer, which represented the dentists. That's an amazing result both in terms of the sheer amount awarded and in its potentially far-reaching effects on the managed care industry. Hopefully some of those companies that have inserted themselves too much into doctor's patient-care decisions will take heed. I suspect they will. A verdict like that is pretty hard to ignore.

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