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***** UPDATE *******  March 28, 2013 ***** WENT TO COURT ******* RESULTS ON PAGE THREE 'POST #52' ***********

 

 

I'm going to trial in district court two weeks from today, after mediation was unsuccessful.  The question I want to toss out for opinions is:  Just in case I win, is there anything I can do to get my 'pro-se' attorney fees from Plaintiff?  I'm going to have an unpaid day of work missed.  If it matters, Plaintiff suing for $700 + about $200 atty/filing fees.  I contend that I owe $310.

 

Would I have to file a countersuit of some kind?  Please help!

 

Jimmy

 

PS:  Maybe this should be a separate topic, but anyone who could recommend some good discovery questions, I would appreciate that too.  Here it is in brief:

Hospital says I owe $700, but there are TWO items they did NOT do (one of which insurance, correctly, did NOT pay).  The second is being billed for 30 extra minutes in recovery (this one is lumped into part of what insurance paid).  In all, I was overbilled by $390 from these two items.  How can I go about proving these items never happened.  For example, one of the two items is for an emergency room visit in which I was billed for "install of cathater;" never happened, never did they insert ANYTHING in me, but how in the world can I prove this?  I know they just made a billing mistake, but short of having video of all of this, it's just my word against theirs.  HELP!

Edited by Jimmy E
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Did you ever get a letter, affidavit, anything at all from your physician that shows he told doctors/nurses in the emergency room that the procedure was not necessary?

 

I tell ya BV80, getting an affidavit in hand from my doc who was called at 2am during my emergency room visit is not easy to say the least.  BUT, after a visit and a couple of conversations with his nurse, he said he would provide in writing the fact that he told the ER that "resetting" the stint was not necessary.  I understand the doc works closely with the hospital and has no dog in the fight, but it looks like my persistence will pay off.  I could tell through communication with his nurse that he'd rather no say anything that could cause tension between he and the hospital; can't blame him, as he would probablly rather throw me under the bus and protect the hospital.

 

I'm certainly no medical specialist, but in thinking further about this, the ER charge for installing a cathater could make sense to make sure my, um, plumbing was not stopped up.  But, it didn't happen.  I urinated on my own, cleaned up, and left.

 

Would that make the doc affidavit almost moot.  He just said the above.  He didn't mention a cathater one way or the other; and that is the issue.  Unless the judge just believes what I will be telling him, I can't dissprove a non-event.  The 'good name' of the hosptial and what their logs 'show' will probably trump my "word."  It may be an exercise in futility, but I am going to press ahead either way.  Maybe the doc affidavit will at least show I'm doing all I can to butress my claim...dunno.

 

I really appreciate your input.  Thanks a lot!

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I understand what you mean about the doctor.   One would think that the hospital would have to show why they performed a procedure that your physician stated was not necessary.   If you're willing to keep fighting, that's what you'd have to point out.  Your doctor said it wasn't necessary, so why did they do it?

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Remember an affidavit is hearsay.   If they object to an affidavit, you're screwed as far as getting it admitted.   However, that cuts both ways.   Remember bills are also hearsay.  They better have somebody there that has personal first hand knowledge about those bills and the procedures and polices of the billing dept.  

 

I see this as an easy win probably on procedural and technialities.   I can't imagine they will have all they need at a b.s. little case like this.   What a waste, in my opinion.   I'd make sure and do a little grand standing on how all these ER bills go uncollected by those that are illegal aliens, have no insurance, and just can't get blood from a turnip but here you are offering a fair compromise and they want to waste all this time and resources and then complain about high medical costs. 

 

I'd also walk right up to their attorney and let the attorney know you are well aware you get a de novo appeal from district court, you plan to use it and you will tie up the next year with them in Circuit Court and you will demand an all day jury trial and all it will cost you is $175.00 so don't get too happy if you win this in kangroo court because I've already got my appeal typed up and it will be filed the next day so get ready to see just how much money I can really waste and what kind of circus I'll turn this into when I have full discovery in circuit court.

 

Welcome to the party pal, this is just the pre-game. 

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And if it looks like you are getting ready to lose then just start turning it into a circus and start making speeches asking irrelevant questions and just being a pain.  Give them preview of what you can turn this into and then if you lose you will be in a better positon to get this settled, if you go that route.  

 

Don't get a contempt citation or anything like that but you can be a royal pain.

 

Also, consider asking for a continuance on the day of the trial. I know two district court judges that give a continuance to either side even on the day of the trial one time for any reason.   Tell the judge you are having some problems getting some documents together from your doctor due to all the red tape and you hoped to have them this morning.  State they are vital to your case and you need at least another month. 

 

You'll probably get it.  If possible get their early and check in with the clerk.  Have them call your case as late as they can and tell the clerk you're waiting on some last minute documents.

 

Then hopefully they can spend a whole day in court AND you can get a continuance right at the last minute.  There are all kinds of fun ways you can play this right at the end.  What's the worst case, the judge says no, then you just have all the more reason to appeal. 

 

When is this thing.  I might come watch.

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First rule of going to court, OBJECT to every thing a collection atty says. If it comes oout of the mouth of a debt collection atty it is a lie.

 

Object to the very first statement, you know the one where the atty says your honor I am atty so and so and I represent So and So..Friggin object to it. How do we know he represents the plaintiff, have you seen any evidence to support that claim, I bet you have not, matter of fact I know you have not. Make him prove it.

 

Number two, i is only evidence if the judge admits as evidence, object to every single piece of paper they try to submit. There is only one rule in evidence, and that is , it is only evidence if the judge admits it to evidence. And the Judge will admit it as evidence if you do not object. Examine every piece of evidence they try to admit and raise a question of fact, and I mean fact not opinion. If they present an affidavit you object as hearsay. If they did not provide the evidence during discovery you object on that fact.

 

I do not care what the atty says you object. Make him prove every word that comes out of his mouth.

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What's that movie, is it A Civil Action, where the advice is the same, no matter what, you always object. 

 

I was on trial for a speeding ticket and the officer said I got a all from dispatch there was a speeder on XXX road.  I stood up and objected as hearsay as to the dispatch communications from dispatch to the officer as hearsay.   Got that deemed hearsay and then the officer was left with no reason he went looking for me.  :ROFLMAO2:

 

Can't believe it worked actually, but yeah, object, object, object, object !!!

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What's that movie, is it A Civil Action, where the advice is the same, no matter what, you always object. 

 

I was on trial for a speeding ticket and the officer said I got a all from dispatch there was a speeder on XXX road.  I stood up and objected as hearsay as to the dispatch communications from dispatch to the officer as hearsay.   Got that deemed hearsay and then the officer was left with no reason he went looking for me.  :ROFLMAO2:

 

Can't believe it worked actually, but yeah, object, object, object, object !!!

 

LOL!  You all don't know how much better this makes me feel; even if I LOSE.  I truly don't want to waste everyone's time.  I would like to pay what I owe and be done with it.

 

I agreed to a mediation that took place today.  The Plaintiff atty was cordial, etc.  I just straight out told him the amount I owe, the fact I was charged for an INVASIVE procedure that did not happen, and if he was seeking more than $310.01, then "see you in court."  The mediator called me later and said the atty checked with the hospital and won't budge.  Fine.  But, that raises a question.....

 

The mediator who set this up spelled out that "facts disclosed in mediation cannot be used if your case ends up going to trial."  The atty now knows that I DO admit to part of the bill and the amount I am proposed to pay.  But, in the answer to the original complaint, I admitted NOTHING because I actually did not know the hospital had combined totals due from TWO bills.  So, at trial when atty shows his exhibit, do I object saying PART of it is not true?  Or, object to all of it as hearsay, forcing him to prove through other means the correctness of amount being sought?

 

Remember, this is the atty who is from Tennessee who had the trial delayed by two weeks because he "had many cases" in Little Rock that day.  The nerve!  His presumption of a no-show by me or a five minute trial in his favor reeks of arrogance on his part.  If nothing else, it would be worth tossing a few legal landmines in his path if only to show him a 'pro-se' doesn't have to have a fancy law degree to have his DAY in court!

 

Finally, legally, the only thing I have done is answer the complaint, received a breakdown of the bill, and have a court date of March 28.  A doc affidavit will be coming, but is there anything I should be doing right NOW (short of asking for a continuance)?  Thanks so much for everyone's opinion.

 

I really appreciate the comments.  Keep'em comin'!

 

Jimmy

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Hospital says I owe $700, but there are TWO items they did NOT do (one of which insurance, correctly, did NOT pay).  The second is being billed for 30 extra minutes in recovery (this one is lumped into part of what insurance paid).  In all, I was overbilled by $390 from these two items.  How can I go about proving these items never happened.  For example, one of the two items is for an emergency room visit in which I was billed for "install of cathater;" never happened, never did they insert ANYTHING in me, but how in the world can I prove this?  I know they just made a billing mistake, but short of having video of all of this, it's just my word against theirs.  HELP!

 

You indicate two items, but never identify the second one. Are you saying insurance paid for one of the two items they "did not do"?  Why did insurance not pay for the other? Is that what you're being asked to pay - the charges the insurance did not cover? Is this really a coverage issue with your insurance provider?

 

Finally, you later indicate something regarding the resetting of a stent. Is is possible the "catheter" you refer to was a cardiac catheter? Could that be how they determined the stent did not need reset?

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Object in whole. You made an offer in mediation of $310.01 and they did not accept it. That was their stupidity as the saying goes, "A bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush." In fact, I would call the attorney on the business day just before the case and state that the offer of $310.01 still stands until the moment the trial commences. The risk they take by not accepting the offer is that the case could end with judgement for the defendant and then you owe nothing and they cannot collect. You can also tell the attorney that you are going to appeal if they win and then the rules of discovery will allow you get the truth out in open court where the news can report it that the hospital is overcharging and charging for procedures not done. Let the attorney ask their client if that is what they really want. In regular court, you can then depose the doctor and the nurse, request admissions, and all sorts of things that you cannot do in small claims.

Also realize that in small claims court, you may not have the right to object because the rules of evidence is less structured.

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If he tries to bring it up in court you definitely object, for the reason that what is stated in mediation can not be used in trial. and the rule of trial procedure that covers it.

 

I don not care if the atty says he is wearing red sneakers, you object on the grounds that they could be dark pink and they just look red.

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But can you object in small claims court. I always thought that was more like Judge Judy without the attitude from the judge where they present their case, you present your case, and then the judge decides. It is informal which is why you have the ability of  trial de novo in the regular courts if the case does not go your way.

If the OP can object, then by all means do so. If they cannot object, then the OP should let the case fall where it may and if not the favor of the OP, then the OP should file for a trial de novo in a real court there the OP can then depose the doctor and nurse, request the actual records from the hospital regarding the charges, and all sorts of other discovery that the OP cannot do in small claims court.

If I were in the OPs shoes, I would keep offering the $310 and state that this is not going to end easily and could end up becoming a problem with the hospital should it become public that they are overcharging and adding charges for services not rendered. That might soften up the hospital's stance a little bit.

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You indicate two items, but never identify the second one. Are you saying insurance paid for one of the two items they "did not do"?  Why did insurance not pay for the other? Is that what you're being asked to pay - the charges the insurance did not cover? Is this really a coverage issue with your insurance provider?

 

Finally, you later indicate something regarding the resetting of a stent. Is is possible the "catheter" you refer to was a cardiac catheter? Could that be how they determined the stent did not need reset?

 

 

Thanks to all.  There's a couple of things I need to clear up.  The complaint and summons I received looks like a 'regular' lawsuit.  I am being sued in District Court in my county; case number CV-XX-XXX.  Forgive my ignorance (hence, I need opinions), but I see no reference to 'small-claims' court.  Or, is a lawsuit in district court where $ is below a certain amount just automatically considered 'small claims?'  Does that mean I can't ask for discovery, etc. in district because the $ is too low?  Sorry, but I'm confused on this.

 

To clarify, item number one: the hospital charged me for an extra 1/2 hour in recovery ($221.62), when I KNOW I was there for the 'billed' one hour.  Hindsight is 20/20, but when I awoke in recovery a nurse was walking past and suddenly stopped and said something to the effect of, "Wow, that was fast."  I asked her how long I had been there and she said about 15 minutes.  I asked her how long I need to stay and she said, "until you can urinate."  After another 15 minutes I did just that, laid back another 5-10 minutes, then got dressed, signed out, and left.  Maybe that charged an extra 1/2 hour because nobody stripped the sheets and my recovery space was not ready the first hour...dunno.  But, I was there less than ONE hour.

 

For those wondering, I had kidney stones.  Some sort of vibration waves oftentimes pulverizes them.

 

Item number two, billed as "install cathater" ($142.78) happened exactly one week later (Black Friday).  The stint installed seven days earlier began to come out while in line at Target waiting for the 12mid "deals." (and DAMN IT, I bought that $150 Acer netbook)!  By 1am I went to the ER thinking they needed to 'reset' it, which is an INVASIVE procedure.  After the ER docs and nurses 'oooo'd and a awwed,' saying they had never seen anything like this before (not sure what they were talking about ;-)), they called my urologist.  I was not near the phone conversation, but the nurse related that the urologist said, "that's fine."  In other words, stint originally to remain in place for 10-14 days, but it coming out exactly 7 days later was "fine."  He didn't instruct the ER to do anything special, one way or another.  He simply told them the stint being out was "fine" (obviously implying it did not need to be 'reset').  After that, the nurse said I needed to be able to urinate to make sure the missing stint did not block that ability.  Needing to go like a racehorse anyway, I complied without pain or problems.  A few minutes later, I cleaned up and left.

 

Grand totals for two complete bills was $13,125.89.  My co-pays and insurance paid $12,452.48, leaving a balance due of $673.41.  It was during this time when looking at each line item, I saw these two descrepencies.  Nowhere does it show how much the hospital applied to each line item on the regular hospital or ER visit.  Maybe the ER assumed at some point an INVASIVE procedure like installing a cathater would be necessary, opened a package and I'm on the hook for it; I don't know.  

 

Here's the breakdown:

Hospital & ER charges =             $13,125.89  (ER part was over $700 just for walking in)

Co-pay & Insurance Paid =         $12,452.48

Difference being sued for =          $673.71

REMOVE extra 1/2 hr recovery = -$221.62

REMOVE inst of cathater =          -$142.78

Total I owe =                               $309.31

 

I'm VERY sorry for the narrative here, but riddle me this please.... Regardless of who paid what, and how monies were or were not applied, the bottom line is the two items NEVER happened.  Therefore, no matter how one spins it, if the hospital is paid for these two items, wouldn't that be 'unjust enrichment' for services that did not happen?  If anyone is owed, it's the insurance company who paid the collective claims, regardless of how much the hospital applied to each line item.

 

My sincere thanks to all.  Please let me know how I should proceed.

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Jimmy,

 

Arkansas calls it district courts but it's just another name for small claims court.   You won't ever hear small claims court used, but that is exactly what you're in right now.   It will be about as informal as you can get and I can't believe they are going to trail over this when you offered to pay 1/2.   This is just so strange because I know the exact court and location.   Yes, it's just right around the corner for them, but that complex where they have that courtroom is a complete zoo most days. 

 

I've been there where somebody gets called up to pay a speeding ticket and the next person comes around the corner looking like Hannibal Lector with all the security around them because they are there to get a plea to a murder charge in under the 48 hour rule. 

 

Plus they have the probation offices in there so there are always tons of people and kids running around, and not to mention there is no parking.   All this just makes no sense because then you can appeal de novo?   Crazy.

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Considering that this is a urinary related issue involving a stent, which would normally be used to keep the urethra open so you could go when you need to, could it be that they installed a catheter when you were asleep and then removed it before you woke up? Maybe one doctor put it in and another deemed it unnecessary.  To find out, you'd have to request all the charts, etc in discovery and subpoena or depose all the people who worked on you. This is utter insanity for this amount of money.

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Actually, I think the TIME article on health care costs looks into that too. What is happening is that the hospital is hoping to get the higher priced coded item from the insurance to pay for those who do not pay their bill.

That is why I really cannot understand why they did not take your settlement and run. If you appeal this out of small claims and to a regular court, their goose is cooked if you can prove that they charged for procedures not done because once the case is done, you can send the case information to the insurance company who then sue the hospital for insurance fraud.

If I were the director at the hospital, I would have taken the $310 and ran knowing that this could turn out badly for the hospital. They already got their markup and whatever they get from you is pure profit anyways.

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Considering that this is a urinary related issue involving a stent, which would normally be used to keep the urethra open so you could go when you need to, could it be that they installed a catheter when you were asleep and then removed it before you woke up? Maybe one doctor put it in and another deemed it unnecessary.  To find out, you'd have to request all the charts, etc in discovery and subpoena or depose all the people who worked on you. This is utter insanity for this amount of money.

 

Thanks again everyone.  BrunoTheJDBkiller.... It was nothing like that.  When that stint came out on its own, I never felt better in my life!  I was there under one hour, fully awake, even asked them if they could turn the TV channel away from "Pro-Active Face Cleaner" infomercial!  I was fully awake for the WHOLE thing.  Since I urinated on my own, no need for cathater.  Had I not done that, then YES, they would certainly not let me leave until they knew I was not blocked.

 

Coltfan, to be clear, the bill is $673...add atty and filing fees, they are suing for around $950.  As it stands now, the trial is March 28 and I don't really have anything to present in my defense except my "word."  I can only assume the contents of their original complaint has been accepted.  Do I object to the bill attached during trial?  Has the judge likely already accepted it (hence, not hearsay) since I have not filed any kind of motions?

 

Is it too late to file for a delay or continuance, saying I'm waiting on critical paperwork pertinent to my case?  Then, hit them with more discovery?  Or, am I too late for that?  Should I just argue what I have (my word), then prepare to appeal de novo to Circuit?  Any help....please!

 

Thanks,

--J

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My district court case is next Thursday (28th).  Question.... Is it too late for me to file an 'Affidavit' as to the correctness of account?  Is this the same as a 'Sworn Denial?'  Either way, here's a state legislative amendment that updates the definition of 'correctness.'  Btw, it's the Ark Rules Civ Procedure:

 

==============

 

SECTION 1. Arkansas Code § 16-45-104 is amended to read as follows:

16-45-104.  Affidavit as to correctness of account. 

(a)(1) In a suit on an account, including without limitation a credit card account or other revolving credit account, in a court of this state, the affidavit of the plaintiff that the account is just and correct, taken and certified according to law, is sufficient to establish the account.

(2) However, if the defendant denies under oath the correctness of the account, the plaintiff is held to prove by other evidence the part of the account in dispute.

 

==============

 

The bold underlined part is me 100%.  I know an affidavit is hearsay unless the judge decides to accept it.  The Plaintiff's affidavit is a bill with 'Jane Doe' swearing accuracy. 

 

Is it too late in the ball game to get this submitted?  Or, could I submit it at trial?  Btw, I am the defendant claiming overbilling.  The entire case is less than $1k.

 

Coltfan1972, what say you?  Anyone else?  BV80, nascar, ?  Opinions appreciated!

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Jimmy, maybe you can file an opposition to the affidavit disputing it, or like you said a counter affidavit. It sounds like you just need to get a dispute filed under oath (check the rules). If not you can still object to it at trial, where you are under oath. Even if the judge allows their affidavit, it is still hearsay. You can't expect them to fight too much over 1K. 

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