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Class Action Allowed To Go Forward

3/25/2003

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the class action suit against Midstate Medical Center,fka Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC). The action known as Rivera vs Veterans Memorial Medical Center was instituted in January 1998, but had been temporarily halted with the ruling of a lower court judge. At issue was whether or not a class action lawsuit brought to attack the hospital's allegedly illegal practice of suing patients covered by Workers Compensation claims could continue. Attorney Brian T. Mahon of the Meriden law firm Weigand, Mahon & Adelman, Attorneys at Law, P.C., lead counsel in the case, was very pleased with the Court's ruling. "Now we can go forward with our efforts to correct this very clear wrong," commented Mahon. A "class action" is a law suit brought by a group of plaintiffs who share a common defining characteristic. It allows a group of people to band together to sue another party in a situation where the individual plaintiffs probably could not prevail because of the high costs of the legal action if brought individually. Class actions are also more efficient in their use of limited judicial resourses allowing the court to hear a case just once rather than many different times. In this case, the class was composed of individuals with accepted workers' compensation claims who were subject to collection activities by the hospital for unpaid medical services rendered as part of the workers' compensation claim. Under Connecticut law, the hospital's bills had to be paid as a part of the workers' compensation claim and it could not go after the individuals once it knew that person was covered by an accepted workers' compensation claim. Some of the plaintiffs were sued and some were simply sent collection letters. Unfortunately, some individuals suffered negative credit reports as a result of the hospital's allegedly illegal collection activity. The Court's decision was written by Justice Joette Katz and is one of a very few decisions concerning class actions in Connecticut case law. The matter will now proceed procedurely. No date for a trial has been set. For more information concerning this issue see "VMMC Sued Over Worker Comp Bills" January 3, 1998 in our "In The News" section.


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