Southeast Texas Record

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Insurers ask court not to toss suit against Shrader & Associates over asbestos suit fees


By Karen Kidd | Aug 27, 2018


GALVESTON – Three private health insurance companies have asked a federal judge to deny a Houston-based law firm's motion to dismiss the companies' lawsuit over allegations the firm didn't pay its share in asbestos litigation settlement funds.

The law firm, Shrader & Associates, know it's wrong in its argument that the plaintiffs in the case, insurers Humana, United Healthcare Services and Aetna, lack standing in the case, according to the 50-page response to the firm's earlier filed motion for summary judgment

"Shrader throws a variety of arguments at the summary judgment wall, hoping one will stick," said the insurers' response, which was filed Aug. 10 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas. "All of Shrader's arguments are without merit, and Shrader's motion should be denied."

The case is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Simeon Timothy "Sim" Lake III.

The insurers claimed in their answer that Shrader "specializes in prosecuting asbestos cases and regularly asserts asbestos-related claims against solvent asbestos tortfeasors in state court and insolvent asbestos tortfeasors in asbestos trusts on behalf of its clients. In some instances, Shrader deliberately ignores his clients' subrogation and reimbursement obligations."

The insurers, referring to themselves as "the health plans" filed suit against Shrader and other law firms in September 2016 "to enforce those rights and specifically to seek recovery directly from Shrader from fees it has retained in the course of its representation of its clients that are also the health plans’ members," their answer said.

In its motion for summary judgment, Shrader claimed immunity under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and argued, among other things, that the insurers lack standing and that the insurers' claim be severed into 15 separate actions. 

In their answer, the insurers said the case should not be severed into individual actions because those claims stem from "the same transaction or occurrence" and that "at least one common question of law or fact links all of them."

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