The California Association of Realtors said Monday that it is suing Blue Shield of California to prevent cancellation of medical insurance for more than 5,500 members and their families. The Los Angeles-based trade association, which represents the state’s residential real estate industry, seeks unspecified general and punitive damages and a permanent injunction directing Blue Shield not to cancel members’ policies unless they do not make their payments. The suit was filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It called Blue Shield’s action callous. “We were abruptly notified by mail that our insurance coverage was being cancelled,” association President Colleen Badagliacco said in a statement. The notice, received in mid-December, gave members until May 31 to find new carriers. The association has also been unable to find a new carrier. “Many have operations scheduled, others are recovering from surgeries and require continued medical care or additional therapy. Some are dying and are in need of palliative care during their last days. Blue Shield is denying them all, just when they need medical care the most,” Badagliacco said. Blue Shield spokesman David Seldin disagreed. “They had failed to comply with the terms of their contract with us,” he said. “It’s a question of them not meeting the provisions of the contract. That’s pretty cut and dried.” Under state law, group medical coverage is guaranteed as long as legally agreed-upon guidelines are met, according to the association. “We strongly believe that Blue Shield terminated medical insurance coverage without cause,” Badagliacco said. The association has slightly more than 200,000 members, and about 5,500 of them have the Blue Shield coverage, said association attorney Debra Ferrier. The contract stipulates that 75 percent of the association’s eligible members who want medical coverage must select Blue Shield. But that 75 percent does not include people who have selected another plan, she said. Seldin said the 75 percent participation requirement is designed to spread the risk and keep premiums reasonable. The association has been a Blue Shield customer since 1999. Attorney Heather M. McKeon filed the suit on the association’s behalf. “They are using a very technical argument that we disagree with,” she said. A hearing on the injunction, which could block the Blue Shield action while the suit works through the legal system, is scheduled for March 14. McKeon also said there were some discussions between the parties after the notice was received, but they didn’t go anywhere. email@example.com (818) 713-3743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!