Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Yandle dismisses proposed class action brought by Gaines firm over record search fees

By Charmaine Little | May 14, 2018

BENTON — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois has granted a motion to dismiss a case against a company that handles medical record requests for persons seeking Social Security benefits, according to a May 2 opinion.  

District Judge Staci Yandle granted defendant Healthport Technologies LLC’s motion to dismiss a proposed class action case brought by the Law Office of Brent Gaines and others over "basic" fees charged for record searches that produced no records.

The suit, originally filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court, claims that Healthport responded to a request that it was unable to find any medical records on behalf of two of Gaines' clients and yet billed the firm for a basic search fee. 

Healthport argued the activity the law firm accused it of is legal in the three states named in the complaint where it does business - Illinois, Missouri and Georgia.

The plaintiffs claimed that charging a basic fee was against medical-release laws in Illinois and Missouri as well as consumer protection regulations in Georgia, where Healthport has its principal place of business. 

Healthport offered to settle and the plaintiffs declined, according to the ruling.

Yandle ruled that the firm should not receive monetary damages considering it never paid basic fees in question.

She also found that since Healthport’s settlement offer did not include an admission of guilt and didn’t require the company to finance damages or waive the basic fee for the firm, the settlement does not give the plaintiffs “full relief,” and therefore “cannot moot Plaintiff’s claims.” 

Yandle did not grant Healthport its requested dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

But regarding alleged violations of Georgia law, Yandle ruled that state law could not apply to the case as the alleged injuries were in Illinois and Missouri.

For Illinois and Missouri, Yandle held that those state laws allow a “flat charge” for each page of requested medical records and dismissed claims against Healthport regarding its alleged violation of state regulations.

She granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois