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Wellmont Litigation

Class Notice To Members

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Class Notice with Opt-Out Form

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Full Plain Text of The Notice Below

IN THE LAW COURT FOR SULLIVAN COUNTY
AT KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE
If you are a member of
Highlands Physicians, Inc.,
or were a member after June 21, 2012,
a class action lawsuit may affect your rights.
Courts authorized this notice. This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.
• Highlands Physicians, Inc. (“HPI”) has sued Wellmont Health System (“Wellmont”) on behalf of HPI and HPI members for breach of contract and of fiduciary duty and for other claims.
• The full Verified Complaint can be found at http://highlandsphysicians.com/highlandsphysicians/wellmont-litigation/.
• The courts have allowed the lawsuit to be a class action on behalf of all HPI members. The three opinions can be found at http://highlandsphysicians.com/highlandsphysicians/wellmont-litigation/.

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS LAWSUIT

  • DO NOTHING -Stay in this lawsuit. Await the outcome. Give up certain rights.
    By doing nothing, you keep the possibility of getting money or benefits that may come from a trial or a settlement. But you give up certain rights to sue Wellmont separately about the legal claims asserted in this lawsuit.
  • ASK TO BE EXCLUDED -Get out of this lawsuit. Get no money from it. Keep rights.
    If you ask to be excluded and money is later awarded, you won’t receive a share. But you may retain some limited rights to sue Wellmont separately for damages regarding the claims in this lawsuit. You should consult your own counsel on the extent of retained rights.
  • PARTICIPATE -You can appear by your own counsel at your own expense.

Your options are explained in this notice. To ask to be excluded, you must act before April 23, 2018.
If money or benefits are obtained from Wellmont, you will be notified about how to ask for a share (if you have not excluded yourself).
Any questions? Read on and visit http://highlandsphysicians.com/highlandsphysicians/wellmont-litigation/

WHAT THIS NOTICE CONTAINS
Basic Information Page 3
1. Why did I get this notice?
2. What is this lawsuit about?
3. What is a class action and who is involved?
The Claims in the Lawsuit Page 4
4. Has the Court decided who is right?
5. Is there any money available now?
Who Is In The Class Page 4
6. Am I part of this Class?
Your Rights And Options Page 4
7. How do I ask the Court to exclude me from the Class?
8. What happens if I do nothing at all?
The Lawyers Representing You Page 5
9. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
10. Should I get my own lawyer?
11. How will the lawyers be paid?
The Trial Page 5
12. How and when will the Court decide who is right?
13. Do I have to come to the trial?
14. Will I get money after the trial?
Getting More Information Page 6
15. Are more details available?

BASIC INFORMATION

  1. Why did I get this notice?
    HPI’s records show you as a current or recent member. This notice explains that Courts have allowed, or “certified,” a class action lawsuit that may affect you. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise.
  2. What is this lawsuit about?
    Judge E.G. Moody of the Law Court for Sullivan County, Tennessee is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as Highlands Physicians, Inc. v. Wellmont Health System, Civil Action No. C41368(C). HPI is asking for money damages, a declaration as to Wellmont’s obligations, and an injunction. Money damages will need to be proven at trial but could exceed $15 million.
    For more about the case, including the damages and other relief sought by HPI, see HPI’s Verified Complaint at http://highlandsphysicians.com/highlandsphysicians/wellmont-litigation/. It has 35 pages and four exhibits. It alleges that Wellmont breached contractual and fiduciary duties and committed other wrongful conduct, including by breaching the 1993 Stockholders Agreement, as amended in 1996, between HPI and Wellmont that set up the Highlands Wellmont Health Network. HPI alleges that Wellmont’s conduct harmed HPI members by reducing fee-for-service levels, and in other ways. It seeks damages, a declaration of the parties’ rights under the Stockholders Agreement as amended, and an injunction requiring the parties to abide by this Agreement. Wellmont denies that it did anything wrong. Wellmont’s Answer to the Complaint is at http://highlandsphys.wpengine.com/wellmont-litigation/.
    If HPI recovers money damages by settlement or judgment, money will be distributed to Class Members unless they exclude themselves. Class Members who exclude themselves can try to sue Wellmont for damages, but some claims may barred by the passage of time. You need to consult your own lawyer for a more detailed explanation of the advantages and effects of excluding yourself from the case.
  3. What is a class action and who is involved?
    In a class action lawsuit, a “Class Representative” (in this case HPI) sues on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” HPI and all Class Members are called the Plaintiffs. The company they sued (in this case Wellmont) is called the Defendant. One court resolves all issues for everyone in the Class, except those who exclude themselves from the Class.
    The Law Court for Sullivan County decided that this lawsuit can be a class action and move towards a trial because it meets the requirements of Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (“Rule 23”), which governs class actions in Tennessee courts. Wellmont appealed this ruling but was not successful. For the opinions, see http://highlandsphys.wpengine.com/wellmont-litigation/. Among other things, the Courts found that:
  • HPI’s claims are typical of class claims.
  • HPI will fairly and adequately represent the Class’ interests.
  • Common legal questions and facts predominate over questions that affect only individuals.
  • This class action is superior to other means for resolving the parties’ disputes.

THE CLAIMS IN THE LAWSUIT

4. Has the Court decided who is right?
By establishing the Class and issuing this Notice, the Court is not suggesting that the Plaintiffs will win or lose this case. The Plaintiffs must prove their claims at a trial.

5. Is there any money available now?
No money or benefits are available now because the Court has not yet decided whether Wellmont did anything wrong, and the two sides have not settled the case. There is no guarantee that money or benefits ever will be obtained. If they are, you will be notified about how to ask for a share.

WHO IS IN THE CLASS

6. Am I part of this Class?
Judge E.G. Moody has decided that Class Members include all medical practitioners or practice groups who were members of HPI after June 21, 2012. Class Members can exclude themselves from the case. Those doing so can then sue Wellmont separately. You need to consult your own lawyer to get a more detailed explanation of the effect of excluding yourself.

YOUR RIGHTS AND OPTIONS
You have to decide whether to stay in the Class for all purposes or ask to be excluded from the case before trial. You have to decide this soon.

7. How do I ask the Court to exclude me from the Class?
As a Class Member, you can exclude yourself from the case. If you do so, you will not receive a share of any money damages received in this case. You may have a right to sue separately.
In addition, to the extent later individual actions are not protected by the tolling agreement (Ex. 4 to the Complaint), an issue not being litigated in the Class Action, the statute of limitations may bar some individual claims. You need to consult your own lawyer on this issue and other issues relating to your ability to sue if you exclude yourself.
If you wish to be excluded, you must provide the Court written notification mailed to Highlands Physicians, Inc., HPI v. Wellmont Exclusions, P.O. Box 3602, Kingsport, TN 37664-0602 and postmarked no later than April 23, 2018. Attached is a form that you may use for this purpose, if you desire. In addition, if you require another form, you may obtain one at the website, http://highlandsphysicians.com/highlandsphysicians/wellmont-litigation/.

8. What happens if I do nothing at all?
You don’t have to do anything. By doing nothing, you will remain in the Class for all purposes. If Plaintiffs obtain money, either as a result of trial or settlement, you will be notified about how to     apply for a share (or how to ask to be excluded from any settlement).
If you do nothing, regardless of whether the Plaintiffs win or lose the trial, you will not be able to sue Wellmont in another lawsuit about the legal claims in this lawsuit. You will also be legally bound by rulings and judgments by the Court. You need to consult your own lawyer about whether, no matter what you do, you have claims against Wellmont that are practical to assert outside the class action.

THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
9. Do I have a lawyer in this case?
The Court decided that the law firms of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. with offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Herndon, Coleman, Brading, & McKee, LLP, of Johnson City, Tennessee, are qualified to represent you and all Class Members as Class Members. They are not your lawyers for other matters and, for example, cannot advise you on whether to exclude yourself from the Class.  Together the law firms are called “Class Counsel.” More information about these law firms, their practices, and their lawyers’ experience is available at: www.shb.com and www.lawyerfirm.com.

10. Should I get my own lawyer?
You do not need to hire your own lawyer on issues common to the Class because Class Counsel is working on your behalf as to those issues. If you want your own lawyer, you will have to pay that lawyer. For example, you can ask him or her to appear in Court for you if you want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you. You should consult your own lawyer if you wish to know the feasibility and wisdom of excluding yourself from the Class and bringing a separate damages claim.

11. How will the lawyers be paid?
If Class Counsel get money or benefits for the Class, they may ask the Court for fees and expenses. You won’t have to pay these fees and expenses. If the Court grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees and expenses would be deducted from any money obtained through this litigation from Wellmont.

THE TRIAL
12. How and when will the Court decide who is right?
As long as the case isn’t resolved by a settlement or otherwise, Class Counsel will have to prove the Plaintiffs’ claims at a trial. During the trial, a Jury or the Judge will hear evidence to help them reach decisions about whether the Plaintiffs or Defendant are right about the claims in the lawsuit. There is no guarantee that the Plaintiffs will win or that they will get any money for the Class.

13. Do I have to come to the trial?
You do not need to attend the trial. Class Counsel will present the case for the Plaintiffs, and Wellmont will present the defenses. You and any lawyer you retain are welcome to come at your own expense.

14. Will I get money after the trial?
If the Plaintiffs obtain money or benefits as a result of the trial or a settlement, you will be notified about how to participate. We do not know how long this will take.

GETTING MORE INFORMATION
15. Are more details available?
Visit the website, http://highlandsphys.wpengine.com/wellmont-litigation/, where you will find the Law Court’s Order Certifying the Class, the Appeals Court Ruling affirming the Law Court, the Supreme Court Ruling affirming the Appeals Court, the Verified Complaint that the Plaintiffs submitted, the Defendant’s Answer to the Complaint, an Exclusion Request form,  and a copy of this Notice. Do not phone Class Counsel, but you may email or write Class Counsel at:

Gary M. Elden, Esq.
Matthew C. Wolfe, Esq.
SHOOK, HARDY & BACON L.L.P.
111 South Wacker Drive, Suite 5100
Chicago, Illinois 60606
gelden@shb.com
mwolfe@shb.com Elizabeth M. Hutton, Esq.
HERNDON, COLEMAN, BRADING,
& MCKEE, LLP
104 East Main Street
Johnson City, Tennessee 37604
ehutton@lawyerfirm.com

March 23, 2018

IN THE LAW COURT FOR SULLIVAN COUNTY
AT KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE
HIGHLANDS PHYSICIANS, INC.,
a Delaware Corporation,
for itself as representative of
a class consisting of itself and its members

Plaintiff,

v.

WELLMONT HEALTH SYSTEM,

Defendant. )
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Civil Action No. C41368C

I hereby request to be excluded from the class on whose behalf Highlands Physicians, Inc. has filed the above-captioned lawsuit.
My mailing address is: ____________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

Dated: _______________________________
___________________________________
Signature

___________________________________
Printed or Typed Name

Return this form to:
Highlands Physicians, Inc.
HPI v. Wellmont Exclusions
P.O. Box 3602
Kingsport, TN 37664-0602
In order to be excluded from the class, your written request must be postmarked no later than April 23, 2018.