CHICAGO—July 27, 2018–The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by four of its members and, after final approval of the settlement, will no longer require that its board-certified physicians maintain membership in the association.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Philadelphia-based Duane Morris, LLP, will receive fees and costs in an amount not to exceed $2,617,000. Subject to court approval, Duane Morris will then pay $15,000 to each of the four plaintiffs – Albert Talone, DO, Craig Wax, DO, Richard Renza, DO, and Roy Stoller, DO – from its legal fees. There is no other monetary settlement.
The AOA believes that the business practices at issue in the lawsuit were lawful, but chose to settle the case because the litigation appeared likely to extend for several years, said AOA President William S. Mayo, DO. The legal case prevented the AOA from fully implementing strategic initiatives in membership and board certification, and strained staff resources, he explained.
“For two years, the AOA’s human and financial resources have been diverted to defending this lawsuit rather than to refining our organization to meet the needs of a rapidly growing profession. Our business is to serve the 137,000 osteopathic medical students and DOs in the United States. Settling this lawsuit allows us to focus on the impactful work that is only done by the AOA, such as practice rights protection, legal assistance and federal advocacy for DOs,” Dr. Mayo said.
A $90 reduction of membership dues was part of the settlement agreement. Recently approved by the AOA House of Delegates, the dues reduction applies to regular members for three years starting June 1, 2019. The AOA is a physician-led organization in which members set their own dues, which necessitated the vote. The AOA also will suspend board certification maintenance fees of $90 for three years.
Further, the AOA will recognize online continuing medical education (CME) as equivalent to live CME for the purpose of meeting membership requirements and will offer AOA members two free online CME courses for three years, a value of $40 to $150 per year, depending on specialty.
The AOA will also continue its brand awareness campaign for osteopathic physicians through May 31, 2021.
About the American Osteopathic Association
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents nearly 137,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students; promotes public health; encourages scientific research; serves as the primary certifying body for DOs; and is the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools.
To learn more about DOs and the osteopathic philosophy of medicine, visit www.DoctorsThatDO.org.