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Rynders Named 2015 'Newsmaker of the Year' in Law

February 9, 2015

Varnum trial attorney Perrin Rynders was named 2015 "Newsmaker of the Year" in the law category at the annual Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmaker event, held Jan. 28 at Frederik Meijer Gardens. Rynders was selected based on outstanding success on behalf of his client in high-profile litigation against Michigan's largest insurer.

Rynders led the litigation team in Hi-Lex Controls, Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, in which Varnum showed that the insurer collected hidden fees over a nearly 20-year period by marking up employee hospital claims as much as 22 percent and keeping the markup. Varnum originally won the case in federal court and through several appeals. The four-year battle came to a close in late 2014 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision, putting an end to the appeals process. Varnum has represented more than 60 clients with similar cases against BCBSM.

"Now that all appeals have been exhausted, other clients who have been awaiting the outcome can move forward with confidence," Rynders said. "We are thankful that the matter is concluded but not surprised that BCBSM pursued it to this degree. The initial judgment was steep and awards from the pending cases are likely to be significant."

While Rynders managed the case and served as first chair through the litigation process, he underscored the significant role of Varnum partner Aaron Phelps throughout the entire four-year ordeal. He also acknowledged the support of several associates and paralegals.

"The camaraderie that develops over time working as a team is one of the things that makes the practice of law enjoyable," Rynders said. "Obtaining a great result for a client is the ultimate goal in a litigation practice, and it's even more meaningful when it can be shared by the team."

Rynders said he looks forward to the work ahead.

"Our clients in these (BCBSM) matters have been extremely happy and grateful for the results we've been able to obtain, and that is gratifying," he said. "The recognition by Grand Rapids Business Journal is the icing on the cake, and I accept the honor on behalf of the entire Varnum litigation team."

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