Cleveland Clinic loses bid to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging deceptive billing

Alia Paavola – –

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A judge on the Court of Common Pleas denied the Cleveland Clinic’s motion to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit that challenged the billing practices.

The lawsuit alleges that the Cleveland Clinic violated the Ohio Consumer Selling Practices Act and alleged that the healthcare system’s “unfair” and “misleading” billing practices caused confusion, undue stress and financial harm to patients.

According to the initial lawsuit, filed in August, Amanda van Brakle went to a Cleveland Clinic facility in Lakewood, Ohio for radiological imaging services in August 2018. At no time before the services was Ms van Brakel informed that she could obtain an estimate of the cost of the proceedings, nor was she given an estimate of the costs under the lawsuit.

Upon appointment, Ms. van Brakle was asked to make a payment of $ 25 for the service, but was not given a receipt. Over time, Ms. van Brakle made additional payments totaling $ 288 for the radiological imaging service.

However, the Cleveland Clinic never presented receipts for the payments, nor did they use all payments for the radiology services, but instead credited them to another service, according to prosecutors.

In late 2018, the Cleveland Clinic hired a debt collector to prosecute Ms. van Brakle for what she described as an inflated outstanding balance sheet for the imaging services.

According to the complaint, Cleveland Clinic’s failure to provide receipts of payment and not notify the patient and provide the patient with the estimate was in violation of Ohio Consumer Protection Act.

Ms. van Brakle changed the complaint in November, looking not only for individual relief for herself, but also for certification as a class action lawsuit for anyone else faced with similar billing scenarios.

In its November 2020 motion to dismiss the potential class action lawsuit, the Cleveland Clinic argued that the medical services it provided would not be considered a “consumer transaction” that falls under the state’s consumer protection act.

The Cleveland Clinic claims that “nothing in [the language of the rules] indicates or even suggests that the rules governing medical billing by healthcare providers apply. “

In a January 14 ruling, Judge John O’Donnell ruled that the lawsuit could proceed and that the Cleveland Clinic’s arguments for dismissal were inconclusive or unsupported.

The judge also said Ms. van Brakle’s allegations are sufficient to support a class action lawsuit.

More articles on legal and regulatory issues:
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The Texas clinic is reimbursing Medicare $ 331,000 for improper billing allegations

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