Torrey vs. IDSA/Insurers Lawsuit Update: Fifth Circuit Rejects Lyme Disease Patients

Courthouse News Service (Langford, C.) 11.16.2023, published “Fifth Circuit rejects Lyme disease patients’ coverage-denial conspiracy claims.” The article discusses the ruling of a legal case where patients with long-term Lyme disease were denied coverage and sued the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) for their stance on chronic Lyme disease. The patients alleged that the IDSA conspired with health insurers to establish guidelines that limited treatment for Lyme disease, causing their suffering.

The lawsuit involved 28 patients, including Lisa Torrey, who faced significant health issues after being diagnosed with Lyme disease. Torrey saw multiple doctors before receiving a correct diagnosis, and some healthcare professionals misattributed her symptoms to other conditions or claimed they were psychosomatic. The patients claimed that major health insurers paid IDSA-affiliated doctors to create guidelines suggesting that Lyme disease could be treated with only 28 days of antibiotics. The IDSA’s guidelines published in 2000 and 2006 stated that there was insufficient evidence to consider chronic Lyme disease a separate diagnosis and that post-treatment symptoms might be unrelated to Lyme disease itself.

However, the lawsuit against IDSA was dismissed by a U.S. District Judge, a decision upheld by a Fifth Circuit panel. The panel ruled that the IDSA’s statements in medical journals were considered medical opinions rather than factual representations. The court emphasized that expressing an opinion, even if disputed, does not make the IDSA legally liable.

The court compared this case to previous rulings involving medical opinions in peer-reviewed journals, stating that these opinions are non-actionable and protected as free speech. The IDSA’s attorney welcomed the decision, emphasizing its potential positive impact on other medical societies that issue guidelines. The plaintiffs’ attorney did not respond to requests for comment following the ruling.

For more information:

Read the full article on the Courthouse News Service website here.

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