Siegel LeWitter Malkani Wins Appeal Overturning Decision to Deny Class Certification to Patients Denied Coverage for Mental Health Treatment by Kaiser Health Plan

“We’re gratified that the Court of Appeal recognized the power of our evidence that Kaiser failed to provide its members sufficient resources for adequate mental health care, and optimistic that we will be certified on remand so we can help provide some real relief to their members.  These times especially highlight the importance of mental health care.” – Lead Counsel Jonathan Siegel

On July 13, 2020, the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District allowed patients with severe mental illness to pursue a class action against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan for underfunding mental health care, and restricting medically necessary treatment for Kaiser patients, resulting in long waits for individual therapy, forcing them into inappropriate group treatment.  The decision overturns the lower court’s ruling denying class certification of the claims brought by Susan Futterman, Acianita Lucero, and Maria Spivey.

The Court’s decision came after significant briefing by Latika Malkani and Laura Heron Weber and oral argument by Jonathan Siegel.

The Plaintiffs, Ms. Futterman, Ms. Lucero and Ms. Spivey allege that Kaiser has violated California’s Mental Health Parity Act by denying coverage for treatment to patients diagnosed with severe mental disorders.  Kaiser’s system restricts individual therapy and other necessary treatment, forcing patients to wait weeks or even months for appointments, or be placed into inappropriate group therapy modalities, with devastating outcomes.  They bring claims on behalf of similarly situated patients asking Kaiser to cover medically necessary treatment for patients with severe mental illness.  The Court of Appeal’s decision remands the case to the lower court for reconsideration of the motion for class certification.

Susan Futterman is the widow of Fred Paroutaud, who was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but was denied individual therapy and later committed suicide.  Ms. Lucero was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and was automatically placed in group therapy, after being told that long-term individual therapy was “not available” at Kaiser.  Ms. Spivey lost her teenage daughter, Chloe Roston, to suicide.  Roston suffered from mental illness for many years, but was repeatedly denied individual therapy by Kaiser, even after an attempted suicide.

Siegel LeWitter Malkani is proud to represent these deserving clients who have suffered devastating loss from Kaiser’s broken mental health care system.  For more information about this case, please contact our office.