A collection agency and a healthcare provider in Oregon are being sued by an individual who is seeking $2 million in punitive damages because the provider has not complied with state and federal laws regarding charity care and financial assistance and violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The Background: The plaintiff, who did not have health insurance, received treatment at the healthcare facility in June 2020. The healthcare provider had a financial assistance program that that plaintiff would have qualified for, but he was not made aware of its existence. Individuals were only notified of the program if they contacted the provider directly and inquired about assistance. The bill was then sent to the collection agency.
- The agency filed a collection lawsuit against the plaintiff. The collection agency was charging 9% interest on the debt, which exceeds the amount that could be assessed, according to state law, the plaintiff claims.
- Even though it knew what the agency was doing, the provider continued to place thousands of accounts with it for collection, according to the complaint.
- The defendants obtained a judgment against the plaintiff in the amount of $887.24, and after threatening to garnish his wages, the plaintiff began making payments on the debt and repaid the debt in full.
- The filing of a collection lawsuit constitutes an extraordinary collection action, which are restricted under federal law, according to the complaint, and with which the provider only partially complied.
The Claims: The suit accuses the collector of violating several sections of the FDCPA and accuses both defendants of violating the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act.