Attorney wants uninsured patient's suit to go forward despite settlement

Steve Korris Dec. 14, 2006, 7:33am

Judge Stack

Attorney Lanny Darr wants to carry on a class action suit on behalf of uninsured hospital patients with a plaintiff whose hospital bill was covered by insurance.

Darr himself negotiated the personal injury payout of his client, Jacqueline Johnson.

Their proposed class action accuses Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, in St. Louis, of charging unreasonable rates for patients who lack insurance.

Although Darr obtained a settlement in an auto accident that injured Johnson's children, Johnson did not pay the hospital.

The hospital asserted a lien against her settlement.

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack has told Darr twice in five months that he would not turn a lien proceeding into a class action.

At a hearing in June Stack said, "I think you have to adjudicate the lien to determine whether there is damage."

He said, "If you adjudicate the lien and come out to something that's considered fair and reasonable, where is the damage?"

He dismissed the complaint but told Darr he could amend it.

In July Darr filed an amended complaint removing all references to a lien.

The complaint identified Johnson as an Illinois resident. It stated that her daughters suffered injuries in a 2003 accident.

It stated that Cardinal Glennon charged $82,542.30 for their treatment.

Darr proposed to certify Johnson as representative of all Cardinal Glennon patients who lacked insurance or other third party benefits and received unreasonable bills.

He wrote, "Johnson does not criticize the patient care rendered by defendant, Cardinal, and is not asserting a claim for any harm or damages arising from patient care."

He asked Stack to impose a trust upon all monies Cardinal Glennon received as a result of unlawful and unjust conduct.

The amendments did not alter Stack's attitude. At a Nov. 29 hearing he stayed the class action pending adjudication of the lien.

Darr said there was no petition for adjudication.

Stack said, "Somebody do something about the lien."

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