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Ok.....going to APPEAL!


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For the handful that may be aware, I lost my district court case to the hospital four just under $1k.  For anyone interested in the background, go HERE.

 

To summarize, I contested two items ($400) on my hospital bill (of $700) as never happening.  Similar to a JDB case in that there was a complaint and an ‘affidavit’ from the head of accounts at the hospital.  I was surprised as this ‘affiant’ appeared with the atty at trial and explained the complexity of how hospital and insurance payments work.  In the end it came down to her saying that my insurance paid the agreed discounted amount for a ‘procedure,’ and even if the two items I questioned were removed, my obligation of $700 would not have changed.

 

Needless to say, I was trying to get the judge to see this from a customer point of view; I receive a bill listing each item that happened along with a price – all totaling $700.  But, remove two items that did not happen and the total is $300.  My concern at the time (and now) is why would I receive a bill listing each item and price if it did not reflect the reality of the insurance portion?  I would understand, and it would make more sense if the charges reflected POST insurance payments.

 

In the end, I was not completely prepared by having all of my insurance info to compare against what the hospital received – in part because were it not for the ‘affiant’ being there in person, I knew the atty would not be able to explain these hospital vs. insurance complexities.  Plus, I knew I had a de novo appeal in my back pocket.

 

Now, to the appeal…..(next post)

 

Thank you all so much!!

 

Jimmy E

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I will be ready to fight this, armed with a LOT more information to show that the hospital bill should have been lower.  I will have insurance claims that show exactly what the hospital was paid, the amount I paid, and show that the hospital should not prevail.

 

Forgetting for the moment that I may not win, I have a few procedural questions that I hope you can help me with…. (Coltfan1972 has already been notified) ;-)

 

1.  Is there a limit on the amount of atty fees the other side can charge?  I want to send them discovery that requires them to put a LOT of time into providing me.

 

2.  Will I have to put up a “trial bond” for the previous judgment amount of $1k?

 

3.  Do I need to file something separate so I don’t have to pay the atty fees from the previous judgment if I win on appeal?

 

4.  If I win, can I recover any kind of costs like $ paid to file the appeal, etc?

 

Any other opinions you all might have about the procedure of doing this appeal?  I would VERY much appreciate it.

 

Remember, in this case I am much more interested in finding out the correct PROCEDURES – making sure I have all of my ‘ducks’ in a row.

 

Opine away… PLEASE!

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Jimmy, assume you don't appeal. Is the judgment collectible? If not, you may want to reconsider. Since the judgment appears to be for a sum certain, liquidated amount, I suspect you'll have to post a bond in the amount of the judgment.

 

Additionally, "de novo" review does not mean "do over." A review "de novo," as opposed to review based upon abuse of discretion or error of law standard, simply means the court will review the entire record on appeal "as if for the first time." You don't get to come in there with a stack of "new" evidence and conduct a new trial. The appellate court will only review what is contained in the record from the lower court. That is why it is highly advisable to record the actual hearing (court reporter, etc.) since the paper files in small claims court are often rather scarce. Did you do that?

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Coltfan will correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, Jimmy will not be going to the appellate court, he will be simply elevated to superior court where small claims cases are appealed. I think he gets to start from scratch. If that is the case, he can conduct more discovery.

 

nascar, unless there is something I don't know about, I would say YES, it is collectible -- meaning I have a job, 'some' money, and likely some non-exempt property.  I'd rather not give it up, but my primary concern regards appeal expenses beyond the $150 I know it costs to file.

 

BrunoTheJDBkiller you're right -- and yes, Coltfan can correct me if I'M wrong, but this case was not considered 'small claims' by the fact that the Plaintiff inserted an attorney.  Correct me if I'M wrong, but am really sure that atty being involved makes it a 'regular' case.  Keep in mind that I don't know the 'lingo.'  I say 'regular' case to mean it was not a pro se vs. pro se, or a 'Judge Judy' kinda deal.

 

In an Arkansas, it's my understanding that one can appeal de novo 'just because,' for no reason (again, correct me if I'M wrong, Coltfan) -- creating a completely new trial in Circuit court (from District), allowing me to conduct more discovery as BrunoTheJDBkiller suggests.

 

Assuming this IS true, can either of you elaborate in any way on the remaining questions?  Thanks in advance!

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Some small claims venues allow lawyers. In the case of a hospital suing, that is a corporation, they MUST have a lawyer come to court. I think District Court is the same as small claims there, and as I recall reading your stuff Coltfan said you get a fresh start. He'll be along, he's giving directions to the IHOP manager as to how you use a cement mixer to make waffle batter. He'll be along after he finishes.

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In an Arkansas, it's my understanding that one can appeal de novo 'just because,' for no reason (again, correct me if I'M wrong, Coltfan) -- creating a completely new trial in Circuit court (from District), allowing me to conduct more discovery as BrunoTheJDBkiller suggests.

 

Assuming this IS true, can either of you elaborate in any way on the remaining questions?  Thanks in advance!

 

I hope  you're right.

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This is a 100% complete do over.   There is not even a court reporter in the courtroom Jimmy was in.  The judge will just make a note like the trial started and the judgement.   The appeal paperwork will be one page and about five or six lines with the most basic of information there is.   In fact, Jimmy could have not even shown up for the trial and been awarded a default and he could appeal to circuit court from the court he just lost.   

 

In fact, the judge will even tell the parties prior to trial (seen this many times while waiting on other stuff) :"please don't say to me, the other judge said this or they said this at the first trial, this is a brand new trial and nothing in the first trial matters"  

 

Jimmy was in small claims (we call it district) and gets an appeal, with no appeal bond, to circuit and then the full rules of procedure along with discovery kick in.   The only requirement to be granted the appeal is if it's done within 30 days.  The appeal transcript (which is really just a piece of paper with the judgement on it) is only $5.00 and then the cost to appeal (I believe) is $165.00.  

 

This is a true do over.  Now if he loses here and appeals, then it's the old fashioned appeal and all matters must have been preserved for appeal and you must have an appealable issue, etc..........     That appeal would go to the Arkansas Court of Appeals and the only court above that is the State Supreme.   

 

Jimmy, 

 

With that said, that also means that their attorney fees ARE NOT capped and this is a true do over for them so if they win and attorney are able to be awarded it will be for actual reasonable hours.   That's why you can't lose when you use the strategy myself and others use.   It's high risk (well I don't think it is) high reward.  Generally you win it all or lose it, the only way I'd ever have it. 

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Thanks for clearing that up Coltfan.  Ok, I'll do the needed to appeal, do a forensic review of my insurance claims vs. hospital charges, and prepare to send discovery.

 

My immediate lame-brained question, as well as those in post #2 is:  Is the Plaintiff still the Plaintiff?  When atty receives the appeal, is it up to him to start from scratch by bringing suit against me again?  Don't laugh, I just don't know.  :dunno:

On the slight chance plaintiff wins this time, (hehe) is there a 'cap' on atty fees?  I plan on having him spend a LOT of time on this.

 

Thanks!

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I think Shellie posted a while back that if your doctor did not order a procedure, it should not have been charged to you.  This would be the time to obtain your medical records and read over them carefully.  Per the HIPPA law, you should simply be able to go to Medical Records and request a copy, although they can charge you for copying the record.

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The plaintiff remains. The case just gets transferred to the next level. You may even have the same case number, altho I am not sure. At any rate, you are starting from square one. You need to conduct extensive discovery concerning the manner in which these bills are calculated. Coltfan will help you with this as he has worked in the insurance industry and knows what to ask for. I think. Then again, he may be distracted by his latest "legal assistant." And I thought "Miss Caselaw" was a distraction.

 

 

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