Articles Posted in Health Law

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According to the complaint, Dustin Limberg sought emergency department care and treatment at Sanford Medical Center Fargo. He did not have insurance and was asked to sign, and did sign, Sanford's "Statement of Financial Responsibility and Release of Information" form ("the contract"). After receiving his bill for the visit, Limberg filed a class action lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that Sanford's billing practices were unfair, unconscionable, or unreasonable because the contract contained an "open price" term. He claimed the term "all charges" as referenced in the Sanford contract was ambiguous and he and the class were liable to Sanford only for the reasonable value of the treatment and services provided to them. Sanford moved for dismissal, which the district court granted. Limberg appealed. On appeal, he argued the district court should not have dismissed the case. Because the district court appropriately dismissed the case, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Limberg v. Sanford Medical Center Fargo" on Justia Law

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On May 12, 2016, G.A.S.'s mother petitioned for involuntary commitment at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck after hospital personnel became concerned about G.A.S.'s health because he refused psychiatric medication. G.A.S. waived a preliminary hearing, and on May 17, 2016, the district court ordered him involuntarily committed for 14 days. G.A.S. appealed a district court order authorizing involuntary treatment with prescribed medication. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not violate G.A.S.'s statutory rights by accepting testimony from one of G.A.S.'s treating psychiatrists, and the court's factual findings were supported by the evidence. View "Interest of G.A.S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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Joan Johnson, as personal representative of the Estate of Herman B. Johnson, and Marguerite Johnson, Herman Johnson's widow, appealed a district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing their action against Mid Dakota Clinic. On the morning of December 18, 2012, Herman Johnson experienced confusion and swelling of his legs and calves. That morning, Joan Johnson, Herman Johnson's daughter and attorney-in-fact, called the Veteran's Administration Clinic to schedule an appointment for Herman, but the VA Clinic did not return her call. As a result, Joan Johnson called Mid Dakota to schedule an appointment. Although she had requested a specific doctor, she was advised she would not be able to see him that day and was given an appointment with Donald Grenz, M.D. later that afternoon. Upon arriving at Mid Dakota Clinic at Gateway Mall, Joan and Herman Johnson checked in with the receptionist approximately seven minutes late for the appointment. Because they were more than five minutes late, they were told Dr. Grenz would not see them but they could reschedule with Dr. Grenz for another day or go to the emergency room or the "Today Clinic," a walk-in clinic within Mid Dakota's main clinic downtown. Joan and Herman Johnson subsequently left the clinic to seek alternative care. Upon entering the east vestibule of the Gateway Mall, Joan Johnson decided to seek the assistance of the VA Clinic, which was located in the mall immediately adjacent to Mid Dakota. As Joan and Herman Johnson turned to re-enter the mall, Herman Johnson fell and hit his head on the floor of the vestibule. As a result, he suffered a laceration along his forehead. Joan Johnson then returned to Mid Dakota and announced that Herman Johnson had fallen and was injured. A registered nurse employed by Mid Dakota assisted Herman Johnson until he was taken by ambulance to St. Alexius Medical Center and was admitted for observation. While Herman Johnson was hospitalized, he suffered two episodes of respiratory arrest, and he died on December 27, 2012. The Johnsons sued Mid Dakota for negligence, breach of contract and professional negligence. Because the Johnsons failed to present sufficient evidence to raise genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Johnson v. Mid Dakota Clinic, P.C." on Justia Law

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In 2013, Emma Reiger entered the Good Samaritan Society's basic care facility. She executed a general durable power of attorney appointing two women "to be my attorneys-in-fact and co-agents in my name and for my benefit." Rieger signed a "Designation of Authorized Representative" authorizing the Society to "(i) initiate an application for Medicaid benefits on my behalf, (ii) participate in all reviews of my eligibility for Medicaid benefits and (iii) take such action as may be necessary to establish my eligibility for Medicaid." On the same date, Rieger signed a separate document titled, "Assignment of Medicaid Benefits," which assigned to the Society her right to obtain Medicaid benefits for services provided to her by the Society, and an "Authorization for Release of Health Information." These documents were provided to the Department of Human Services. The Department oappealed a judgment reversing the Department's dismissal of Rieger's appeal challenging its denial of her Medicaid application and remanding for a fair hearing on the application. Because the law allowed The Evangelical Good Samaritan Society, doing business as the Good Samaritan Society - Mott ("Society"), to act as Rieger's authorized representative for purposes of appealing the Department's denial of her Medicaid application, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Evangelical Good Samaritan Society v. N.D. Dep't of Human Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant John Schmitt appealed the dismissal of his claims against MeritCare Health System for defamation, tortious interference with a prospective business advantage, and violation of state antitrust law. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiff's allegations lacked merit, and affirmed the grant of summary judgment dismissing his claims. View "Schmitt v. MeritCare Health System" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Sean Weeks appealed a summary judgment that dismissed his claims against Michael Geiermann and Collection Center, Inc. (collectively "Collection Center") for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. In 2009, Plaintiff brought this action against the Center for its attempt to collect $3,034.21 in interest on a debt he owed to Medcenter One for clinic and hospital services. Plaintiff obtained medical services from Medcenter's clinic and hospital. According to billing records for the clinic, Plaintiff received services between 2002 and 2008 and was billed $6,752.46, of which his insurance paid $4,698.72. After an insurance adjustment of $1,427.26, Weeks was responsible for $626.48. Weeks paid $453.40, and after another adjustment of $2.03, $171.05 remained unpaid. In July 2009, attorney Geiermann on behalf of Collection Center sent Plaintiff a letter, demanding payment to the hospital for $4,481.22 and to the clinic for $171.05. The letter also demanded $3,003.28 in interest for the hospital and $30.93 in interest for the clinic. The district court granted Collection Center's summary judgment motion and dismissed Plaintiff's action, stating the case was "fairly straightforward." The court held there was no disagreement that Plaintiff had incurred a debt to Medcenter for medical services that remained unpaid which constituted a "legal indebtedness." The court further held that, according to Plaintiff's affidavit, he never received anything in writing from Medcenter indicating any interest would be assessed in the event of nonpayment of this debt after a specified period of time. The court concluded "as a matter of law, that [Collection Center was] rightfully entitled to collect interest from Weeks at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum on the legal indebtedness owed by Weeks to [Collection Center], as the assignee of Medcenter One." Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that a "medical services provider," who does not make disclosures required under N.D.C.C. 13-01-15 to charge the "late payment charge" allowed under N.D.C.C. 13-01-14.1, is still entitled to prejudgment interest under N.D.C.C. 47-14-05 at the legal rate of six percent per annum. View "Weeks v. Geiermann" on Justia Law