Summary of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit alleges that Brunel failed to provide continuing health care coverage (commonly called COBRA coverage) to employees and their beneficiaries who were covered under the Plan through an insurance policy with BUPA International.

Summary of the Claims

The Complaint alleged that Brunel failed to notify employees about their entitlement to COBRA coverage and their right to obtain coverage at a reduced rate as authorized by Congress in an economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”).  According to the Complaint, when asked for a COBRA package by a terminated employee, Brunel advised the former employee that COBRA coverage was not available. 

Class Action

On August 30, 2013, the Court certified the following class: 

All employees of Brunel who elected coverage provided by British United Provident Association Limited (‘BUPA’), together with their spouses and other covered dependents who were participants or beneficiaries in the Brunel Group Health Plan at any time from April 15, 2009 until the present.

The Court has certified the following issues for class treatment: (i) Brunel’s liability for failure to provide COBRA initial notice; (ii) Brunel’s liability for failure to provide notice and benefits following a qualifying event; and (iii) Brunel’s conduct and intent toward the class as a whole in committing the alleged statutory violations. 

The Court determined that ARRA claims would not be certified, but could pursue the claims either individually as part of this litigation or separately.

On September 27, 2013, the Court appointed Cohen Milstein as Lead Class Counsel and Campbell Harrison & Dagley, LLP as Local Class Counsel.

History of the Litigation

The lawsuit, entitled Slipchenko, et al. v. Brunel, et al. (S.D. Tex.), was filed on April 15, 2011.  Plaintiffs completed discovery in the case on October 12, 2012.  The Court entered an order certifying the class on August 30, 2013. In the August 30, 2013 Order, the Court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as to (1) Brunel’s failure to provide initial COBRA notice, and (2) Brunel’s failure to provide notice and benefits after a qualifying event. A trial was set to begin September 5, 2014.

Settlement

The Parties agreed to settle the case on August 25, 2014 and filed a formal settlement agreement with the Court on September 16, 2014.  The settlement agreement required Defendants to pay  $375,000 to the Class plus $624,000 in attorneys’ fees and expenses.  This settlement resulted in the largest average recovery to class members in any reported COBRA class action.  The Court granted preliminary approval of the settlement on September 30, 2014. Notice of the settlement was sent to class members on October 10, 2014. A fairness hearing on the Proposed Settlement was held on January 20, 2015 and the Court entered final approval of the settlement on January 23, 2015. The settlement became effective on February 23, 2015 and all payments to class members were mailed on March 23, 2015.

Whom to Contact for More Information

If you are a member of the Class and have questions about the settlement or your distribution, please contact the Settlement Administrator:

Gilardi  & Co., LLC3301 Kerner Blvd # 100
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 461-0410

http://www.gilardi.com/slipchenkovbrunelenergy/

If you have other questions about this case or COBRA claims in general, please contact one of the following persons:
 
R. Joseph Barton, Esq.  jbarton@cohenmilstein.com         
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone:  888-240-0775 (Toll Free) or 202-408-4600