Court of Appeals Decides Medical Collection Attorney's Fee Case

Medical billing and collections can be complicated. Often, what looks like one service to the patient can result in bills from multiple entities and a variety of collection efforts. The obligations from debtor to creditor can be similarly variable.

In the case of Deca Financial Services, LLC v. Gray (pdf), the Indiana Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether a trial court was correct to deny the plaintiff an award of attorney fees. Deca was an assignee of Emergency Medicine of Indiana PC whose emergency room doctors performed services at Dupont Hospital. The patient-debtor signed a contract with Dupont agreeing to pay attorney fees in the event the account went to collection. The trial court declined to award attorney fees to Deca on the basis of that provision, reasoning that Emergency Medicine and Dupont Hospital were different entities and the agreement by the patient did not extend to Emergency Medicine. The Court of Appeals agreed.

If a creditor wants to be entitled to attorney fees in the event of a contract dispute or collection efforts, the creditor should do what it can to ensure that there is a contract between the creditor and the debtor with a clear attorney’s fee provision.

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