Engler majority's constipated "standing" requirement precludes Allstate from over-reaching
Last year in an environmental case, the Engler majority of the Supreme Court pronounced a new and restrictive rule that precluded many interested persons from bringing disputes before the courts. It restricted the number of people who have "standing" to challenge a wrong. This misguided holding had one unexpected advantage last week, when it deprived Allstate Insurance Company of the right to avoid paying Personal Injury Protection benefits to a Physical Therapy provider.
Allstate is one of the more conniving and untrustworthy, self-dealing insurers in the country; perhaps the archetype for putting its own interests ahead of its' insureds. (Take a glance at prior web log articles discussing Allstate's "good hands or boxing gloves" policy and record profits.) For the last three years, it has been attempting to avoid paying for an insured's physical therapy, not by challenging the reasonableness or necessity for the therapy, but rather by arguing that the provider had made an error in its Corporate filing with the state. After losing at every other court, Allstate brought the issue to the Supreme Court, probably relying on the fact that insurers never lose there.
Allstate apparently hadn't looked beyond the issue of consumer/insurer litigation, however, and therefore hadn't considered the impact of carrying a dispute between two corporations to the high court. The ultimate decision confirms that a health care corporation can prevail against an insurer in the Supreme Court, even if an insured cannot. The Engler majority--with separate concurrences from the remaining 3 Justices in the result only--used its policy of holding closed the courthouse doors to affirm the decision that Allstate must pay for therapy. It ruled, in essence, that Allstate didn't have the right to complain about the therapy provider's defective corporate filing with the state. This will head-off a number of "loophole" challenges that Allstate and other No Fault insurers were pursuing to avoid paying for medical benefits, despite the fact that the benefits were medically necessary.
The case is Miller v. Allstate and PT Works