Georgia Supreme Court Lien Decision

On June 29, 2020, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously issued an opinion in a class action addressing claims that a hospital was committing fraud by filing liens for full charges when the negotiated amount paid may be significantly less.

In the decision issued by Chief Justice Melton, the Court overturned the trial and appellate judges, stating that the proposed class was too varied to be certified, as it included both insured and uninsured patients, patients whose liens had been released, and those that had settled their claims without paying the hospital. The Court held that the cases needed to be determined on a case-by-case basis, stating that: “even if the class were limited to uninsured patients who had a lien filed at the chargemaster rate against any potential tort recovery, commonality would still be lacking. Just because an uninsured patient is billed at the chargemaster rate does not necessarily mean the charge itself is unreasonable for that specific patient.” Additionally, the court held that the trial and appeal courts should have granted the Medical Center’s motion for summary judgement on all claims.

A full copy of the order can be found here: https://images.law.com/contrib/content/uploads/documents/404/48887/GSC-Medical-Center-v.Bowden-opinion.pdf

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