On November 6, Bernalillo County District Court Judge Alan Malott ruled in favor of ABQ Health Partners in denying Lovelace Health Plan’s request to the Court to issue an injunction against ABQ Health Partners.
Lovelace had claimed that ABQ Health Partners had breached its obligations to Lovelace under the managed care agreement between them that was due to expire on November 8, 2012, including, particularly, alleged obligations to not issue “defamatory” or damaging communications about Lovelace to ABQ Health Partners patients or others, and to not “encourage” Medicare patients to convert from Lovelace Health Plan to a different health plan.
Lovelace sought an injunction to prevent ABQ Health Partners from doing these things, especially providing materials and talking to its patients about their ability to choose to keep their doctors after the end of the contract between Lovelace and ABQ.
ABQ Health Partners maintained that it had not breached its contract or defamed Lovelace, nor had it encouraged any Lovelace plan members to switch to other plans. Rather, ABQ Health Partners believed its communications with its patients were informational, educational and designed to help patients understand their health care choices.
The Court denied Lovelace’s injunction request, finding that Lovelace had not met its burden of proof for obtaining such relief, including its burden of showing that the injunction would not be against the public interest. The Court stated that it believed that “the public benefits from access to more information about health care alternatives, not less.”
Sutin, Thayer & Browne, working with Los Angeles firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, represented ABQ Health Partners. Sutin lawyer Stevan Looney led the Sutin legal team, which includes Susan Chappell, Kerry Kiernan and Travis Steele.