KathleenSR

Surprise! Summons for Court???

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Hi everybody and thanks in advance for any and all input. I am a 16 year breast cancer survivor and mastectomy patient. In 2011 I had my old breast implants from my reconstructive surgery removed by a plastic surgeon in Virginia. I currently live in Maryland. Today I received a SUMMONS TO ANSWER INTERROGATORIES from an attorney for the plastic surgeon, 7 1/2 years later! I was fully insured by CareFirst Blue Cross at the time, all of the claims were paid I and have never received a follow up bill or any other communication from this doctor's office since. They say I owe $510.98, and there is a reference of a Judgment date of April 4, 2017. I just pulled my reports from the three main credit bureaus and there is no such judgment, nor has there ever been. How in the hell is this even possible and what should I do about it?

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Have you moved since you had the medical procedure? Is it possible they sued you at an old address?

Call the courthouse named in the summons to see there is in fact a judgment against you. CRAs stopped allowing judgments to be reported on credit reports if they didn't have social security numbers or current addresses, so this is very likely why you don't see it, if it is in fact a legit judgment. 

 

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Yes I moved 6 years ago. I found the case in the Virginia court system online. Apparently there was a hearing in 2017 and a default judgment was entered. I knew nothing about the hearing and was never served. 

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You can try to find out how you were "served" to see if they messed that up and try to get the judgement expunged. That might take driving to Virginia however to do that I do not know how far of a drive it is.

What this sounds like is that there was a copay that you did not hear about because the doctors office took forever to bill you (after you moved) and you did not read your EOB (who does). You could also try to contact the attorney and see if they can explain this to you.

In the end, I would probably at this point pay them the $511 and be done with it. It will not make it to your credit report because they do not know your SSN and by paying, you don't have to fill out the documents they sent.

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What I don't understand is this: I never received a bill after CareFirst BlueCross paid the only two claims submitted by the doctor's office. I paid the copays listed on the EOBs on the dates of service 7 years ago. I never knew about a hearing or continuance. I've lived at my current address for 5 years. I live on Social Security and food stamps so paying them is not an option. Guess I will have to contact Legal Aid.

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It's pretty clear to me that because you moved 6 years ago, you never got the bills.  You also wouldn't have known about the lawsuit because they would have been suing you at your old address. This stuff happens. 

Best case scenario, you get the case in VA set aside on defective service. They then sue you where you currently live and will again have the same judgment against you 6 months from now. 

If you have nothing, they can take nothing. I wouldn't worry about the judgment.

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I was insured with the same insurance company and lived at the same address for two years after the surgery and they never billed me or the insurance company. Isn't there a statute of limitations on how long they have to bill for medical services after the date of service? Per their contract with Blue Cross they agree to accept what the insurance company pays. Obviously the scumbag doctor is shaking down his past patients. What about a debt validation/ cease & desist letter to the doctor's office?

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1 hour ago, KathleenSR said:

Isn't there a statute of limitations on how long they have to bill for medical services after the date of service?

@Clydesmom can probably answer this question more definitively, but from what i can tell on a quick Google search, it seems the only limit on how long a doctor has to bill is the statute of limitation for debt collection. VA is 6 years. You said the judgment was 2 years ago so looks like they got it in just under the 6 year SOL.

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2 hours ago, KathleenSR said:

Isn't there a statute of limitations on how long they have to bill for medical services after the date of service?

There is a big difference between how long they have to send you a bill, submit a claim to your carrier, and to sue on a past due balance.  It sounds like you may be confusing the three.  There is no SOL on how long they have to send you a bill.  They can sue you up to 6 years past the date of service in VA as it falls under written contracts.  How long they have to submit a claim to the carrier varies but is usually anywhere from 30 days to 6 months.  Most insurers stopped allowing a year for claims a while ago.

9 minutes ago, Harry Seaward said:

@Clydesmom can probably answer this question more definitively, but from what i can tell on a quick Google search, it seems the only limit on how long a doctor has to bill is the statute of limitation for debt collection. VA is 6 years.

6 years is correct.  Written agreement to pay.

2 hours ago, KathleenSR said:

What about a debt validation/ cease & desist letter to the doctor's office?

WAY too late for a DV letter they already sued you and have a judgment.  

You have one problem is that if you do not answer the debtors exam interrogatories they sent you the court can issue an arrest warrant for failure to comply.  

I would immediately consult a Consumer Attorney to discuss the use of sewer service.  You may have a claim against this doctor and the attorney who represented him.  Most will do a first consult by phone and for free.  If there is a case they will take it on contingency at no cost to you.  Before you do anything or panic start there.  Come back here for more help as you need it or have questions.

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So it is obvious that you have no assets (and particularly no assets in Virginia) that they can attach. Worse case scenario is that you answer the debtors exam as you are researching your options in the case. First thing I would do however is let your bank know that the funds in your bank account are from exempt sources (social security) and should not be levied. That way they don't try to get funds that way. You can then fight the judgement without the threat of arrest hanging over your head. I do find it funny that they could not find you during the entire judgement process but suddenly can find you in another state when it comes time for the debtors exam.

Beyond that, they would have to export the judgement to Maryland to get any assets in Maryland if you have nothing in Virginia which means another court fee (and possibly a Maryland attorney) and they might not do that if there is nothing to be had.

The other thing that could have happened is that there were multiple claims on one procedure and one of the claims did not get paid. That is why you need to keep a careful eye on the insurance claims and the medical bills and try to match the claim to the service. Some providers are good at dealing with insurance and properly billing patients. Others are horrible at both practices to the point where you need to keep your thumb on them so that they do what they are supposed to. And you would be surprised at who is good and who is not. I have been dealing with an internationally renown medical provider whose billing and insurance procedures are horrible and I have to force them to take the steps needed to properly get the insurance to pay them.

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13 minutes ago, WhoCares1000 said:

First thing I would do however is let your bank know that the funds in your bank account are from exempt sources (social security) and should not be levied.

This is no longer required.  The federal government enacted a law almost 10 years ago requiring banks to verify that the funds in the account are not from an exempt source prior to levying the account.  The burden is no longer on the consumer to protect exempt funds initially.  As long as there are not more than 2 months worth of benefits in the account and no non-exempt funds the money is safe.

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7 hours ago, Clydesmom said:

This is no longer required.  The federal government enacted a law almost 10 years ago requiring banks to verify that the funds in the account are not from an exempt source prior to levying the account.  The burden is no longer on the consumer to protect exempt funds initially.  As long as there are not more than 2 months worth of benefits in the account and no non-exempt funds the money is safe.

And you trust these banks to actually follow the law when it is not in their best interest? This is one of those cases where, regardless of the law, I would let the bank know anyways. Particularly in a way that I can prove such as writing. That way, if the issue comes to court, the bank cannot say that they did not know.

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7 hours ago, WhoCares1000 said:

And you trust these banks to actually follow the law when it is not in their best interest?

We have not seen complaints of the banks seizing the funds when exempt.  Even in a few isolated rare instances when a freeze was put in place it was lifted in less than a day when the consumer notified the bank the funds were exempt.  Again, the law requires they verify the money is NOT exempt prior to taking access from the consumer.

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Thank you all so much for your input. I am searching for an attorney. Hopefully I can find one that is licensed in both Virginia and Maryland. I am confused about the timelines for any recourse I may have: They obtained the default judgment in 2017. In Virginia you only have 21 days to file a Motion To Set Aside a Default Judgment. The Summons To Answer Interrogatories is dated 5/7/2019.  Isn't it too late to try and get the judgment vacated for faulty service?

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2 minutes ago, KathleenSR said:

In Virginia you only have 21 days to file a Motion To Set Aside a Default Judgment. 

21 days from when? The clock usually doesn't start ticking until you find out about it. Otherwise the whole idea of a motion to set aside would be worthless since virtually no one finds out about a default judgment within 21 days of entry.

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I found the pdf form for Virginia online and filled it out. Can any of you critique it so I know I filled it out correctly? The doctor (plaintiff) is nowhere to be found so I have to send the Motion to his attorney.

FYI when I lived in California 14 years ago I was a member of this forum and you guys were amazing. That's why this is the first place I turned when I got the Summons. With your help I sued several unlawful creditors and collection agencies and made over 9k, including Toyota for an illegal repossession. Being single and disabled it allowed me to finally get out of CA and move to the East Coast where life has been much better, at least until now. 

Motion To Set Aside.pdf

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I don't either. Normally it would be a certificate of service, but it looks like a certificate for service of a summons and complaint because it says copies were served on "defendants", which is you.  I'm guessing it got included with that pdf by mistake and should actually be a certificate of service of a motion. 

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I filed the motion in district court based on faulty service and they didn't fight it. It was vacated. A month later I received a subpoena that says I must still show up in court to answer to the interrogatories. I consulted an attorney who says that the case is closed and I should ignore the subpoena. Do they have a right to demand my financial information if the judgment was vacated?

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1 hour ago, KathleenSR said:

Do they have a right to demand my financial information if the judgment was vacated?

NO.

The subpoena may be an error.  Contact the court clerk and let them know the judgment was vacated.  You also need to make sure they did not file something after it was vacated to get it re-instated and never served you with that information either. If the judgment is still vacated send a copy of the order of the court doing that to the attorney.  I would ask how he wants to settle his FDCPA violation for taking an action he cannot legally take by using the courts for a judgment that no longer exists.  My guess is he will drop it.

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Thank you so much Clydesmom. According to the court clerk the court date on the subpoena no longer exists. Can you please cite exactly which statute he has violated?

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3 hours ago, KathleenSR said:

Thank you so much Clydesmom. According to the court clerk the court date on the subpoena no longer exists. Can you please cite exactly which statute he has violated?

Google "Fair Debt Collections Practices Act" and you will have more than enough information to cite what statute and section was violated.

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On 7/10/2019 at 12:55 PM, KathleenSR said:

Thank you so much Clydesmom. According to the court clerk the court date on the subpoena no longer exists. Can you please cite exactly which statute he has violated?

Call a consumer attorney who does FDCPA work in VA where the court is located.  Explain to them you got a judgement vacated due to faulty service but still received a subpoena for a debtor's exam.  See if they want to take on any potential law violation for you.  If they agree, they won't charge you.

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