Court sanctions Anthem Blue Cross for refusing to produce plaintiff's own claim file and other discovery abuse in balance billing case

February 10, 2011 -- Following a half-day hearing, San Francisco Superior Court Judge James McBride sanctioned Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health Insurance Co. for its unjustified refusal to produce certain documents in discovery, including plaintiff's own claim file. Plaintiff Gilles Combrisson, who is suing the City and County of San Francisco in a class action for "balance billing" ER patients at San Francisco General Hospital, had asked Anthem to produce documents relating to his treatment at SFGH, including his own claim file. Anthem refused to produce anything for over six months, offering various excuses such as that the information was a trade secret and that it contained private medical information, even though it was plaintiff's own information. Judge McBride would have none of it and ordered Anthem to turn the documents over and to pay monetary sanctions for its abuse of discovery. Anthem is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wellpoint, one of the largest health insurers in the country. After announcing a 39% rate increase in 2010, Anthem recently announced yet another 15% percent rate increase in California.