Dormant class action against Alton Memorial in case management

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 16, 2006, 8:47am

Robert Honke's class action case against Alton Memorial Hospital will finally have a case management conference (CMC) after several failed attempts.

Honke claims Alton Memorial Hospital charged him more for services than for patients with health insurance.

The case which has been dormant since it was set for CMC on Oct. 26, 2005. Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack continued the hearing until Nov. 23, 2005, after neither side showed.

The Nov. 23, 2005, CMC--coinciding with Thanksgiving week--was continued for another 60 days.

Honke is represented by Lanny Darr of Alton and Evan Schaeffer of Godfrey. Troy Bozarth represents the hospital.

Honke, who filed suit Aug. 2, 2005, claims he sustained an injury and went to the hospital for a surgical procedure. The suit does not indicate when the procedure took place.

According to the complaint, the hospital was to only charge Honke reasonable and customary rates for healthcare services and he would only be obligated to pay reasonable charges for the services he received.

"When Honke and other uninsured patients received treatment from Alton Memorial Hospital, the hospital deceptively failed to advise or intentionally concealed from its patients that they would be charged for healthcare at rates which were unreasonable," the complaint states.

"There was no justifiable basis to charge Honke significantly more than what was and is reasonable."

Honke claims the hospital's conduct resulted in financial harm to him and others as it collected or attempted to collect amounts greater than reasonable and necessary.

According to the complaint, Honke will fairly and adequately assert and protect the interests of the class and his interests coincide with and are not antagonistic to the other members of the class.

He claims that members of the class are so numerous that joining them is not practicable and believes there are hundreds or thousands of members whose identities can be easily ascertained from hospital records.

According to Honke, common questions of law and fact predominate over any questions affecting only individual members of the class which include whether the hospital:

  • Failed to inform its patients that they will be charged at a higher rate than in reasonable and customary;
  • Violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act;
  • Is entitled to assert a lien and seek to recover from personal injury settlements for an amount greater than what is reasonable and customary; and
  • Is entitled to charge higher rates for services to its patients who do not have insurance than those patients who have insurance benefits.

    "All Illinois patients of Alton Memorial Hospital who did not have insurance and who the hospital sought to receive payment from for an amount greater than what can be considered reasonable, either by initiating collection activity, garnishment or asserting a lien on personal injury settlements or verdicts," are eligible to join the class the complaint states.

    Honke claims Alton Memorial overcharged him in an attempt to influence reimbursement rules from third parties not associated with this litigation and deceptively added amounts to its charges to uninsured patients for medical care that served no purpose other than to increase the hospital's profit, charges that were not added to insured patients.

    "Alton Memorial Hospital deceptively set the costs of its health care for the uninsured arbitrarily in a way that was unconscionable, unfair, and discriminatory to the uninsured, in that the costs charged to insured patients and bore no relation to the true and actual costs and value of the healthcare services," the complaint states.

    Honke states that he does not criticize the patient care rendered by the hospital, and is not asserting a claim for any harm or damages arising from patient care.

    Honke and the class are seeking damages under $75,000 per class member and a grand total not to exceed $5 million which meets criteria for keeping the case in state court under the Class Action Fairness Act.

    05 L 694

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