A District Court judge in Florida has granted preliminary approval of a settlement in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act class action that will see the defendants refund or waive $512,000 in medical fees and pay $500,000 in statutory damages after the plaintiffs were charged for medical care when it should have been covered under their personal injury protection insurance.
A copy of the preliminary approval in the case of Kuhr v. Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and Professional Service Bureau can be accessed by clicking here.
The plaintiffs were treated at the defendant’s facility for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. The plaintiffs were later billed by the facility and the collection agency attempted to collect on those debts. Under Florida law, medical providers that treat individuals who have personal injury protection insurance are only allowed to charge the insurer and the individual a “reasonable amount.” The plaintiffs allege the provider attempted to collect more than what was reasonable through balance billing. When the provider was not able to collect, it referred the debts to the collection agency. Even after the plaintiff’s insurer notified the agency that it had paid what was owed, the agency continued to try and collect on the debt.
The settlement includes 371 potential class members who have already received notifications that whatever they were charge that was in excess of what was permitted has been waived and will be refunded. The defendants have also agreed to pay $500,000 in statutory damages, which will be divided evenly among the class members, once certain deductions are made.
Judge Marcia Morales Howard of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, did deny a $5,000 award that was to go to the named plaintiff in the case, citing a recent ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals saying such awards are unconstitutional.
The court will hold a final fairness hearing on the proposed settlement in January.