Attorney fee award against Blue Cross Blue Shield is reversed
Ilene and Michael Tinman sued BCBS to compel it to cover the emergency medical expenses incurred by their son. They won and the court awarded them more than $600,000.00 in attorneys' fees. Blue Cross appealed. It had lost a 2005 ruling that the Tinmans were entitled to recover attorneys fees, but argued that it should still be entitled to argue that no fees were owed due to the "bona fide error" doctrine. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals rejected this argument.
Nevertheless, the higher court ruled that there wasn't adequate basis in the record to support the very large fee award. It rejected Blue Cross's argument that the Plaintiff's "excessive" fee request should complete invalidate its entitlement to fees. On the other hand, the court did not complete the evidentiary hearing to address the basis for the Plaintiff's fee request before awarding $650,000+ in fees. Not completing the hearing before it ruled rendered the Court's deicsion a denial of due process and of the right to cross examination.
The Court concluded that "clearly" the trial judge had not met his burden of adequately explaining precisely how the fee award had been calculated, or of supporting it with a reasoned analysis.