Class action complaint filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson against Texas medical center can move forward, appeals court rules

by John Chapman

A Texas appeals court has ruled that a class action filed against a medical center in Longview can move forward, overturning a lower court’s decision to toss the lawsuit. The members of the class action – represented by Heygood, Orr & Pearson attorneys Eric Pearson and Jim Orr – allege that they were overcharged for medical care provided by the Good Shepherd Medical Center.

The lead plaintiff in the class action complaint, Jessica Growden, alleges that she took her daughter to Good Shepherd in February 2016 to be treated for minor injuries. Growden’s daughter was only at the facility for a few hours before being released. One month later, Growden received a bill from Good Shepherd for more than $25,000. The medical center demanded that the bill be paid in full within 30 days.

Growden filed a class action complaint against Good Shepherd on behalf of herself and other patients who may have been overcharged in medical bills from the center. Growden sought a declaration stating that Good Shepherd was entitled to collect only the “reasonable value” of medical services provided at the facility.

However, before Growden’s class action lawsuit was certified, Good Shepherd decided to dismiss her medical bill. The medical center filed a motion to have her class action lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that since the lead plaintiff no longer had a valid claim, the complaint was moot. After the trial court granted the motion to dismiss, Heygood, Orr & Pearson filed an appeal on Growden’s behalf with the Texas Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After hearing Growden’s appeal, the court ruled that the class action lawsuit against Good Shepherd should be allowed to move forward under the “picking-off exception.” The picking-off exception states that defendants in a class action case should not be able to have these claims dismissed by simply extinguishing the claims of the named plaintiff in the case.

The Sixth Circuit panel that heard the appeal noted that Good Shepherd only waived Growden’s bill after her class action complaint had been filed. Because of this, the panel ruled that “it is reasonable to infer […] that Good Shepherd’s waiver of Growden’s medical bill was based on a litigation strategy employed by it in an effort to dispose of this action.”

The panel also noted that while the Texas Supreme Court has not specifically recognized the picking-off exception in class action litigation, the court has already recognized similar exceptions. The panel also noted that the picking-off exception has been recognized by numerous several federal courts, including the Fifth Circuit.

Because Good Shepherd had waived Growden’s medical bill in an attempt to avoid class action litigation, the Sixth Circuit panel ruled that the trial court had erred in dismissing her class action complaint. The panel also found that the court erred in dismissing Growden’s claim for attorneys’ fees in the case. The panel remanded the case to the trial court for additional consideration.

Class Action Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

A class action lawsuit involve claims filed on behalf of a group of people who have suffered similar harm from the actions of a particular defendant. These lawsuits are filed by one or more “class representatives” who ask the court for permission to represent the interests of all those other people who were harmed in the same way.

Clients who wish to file a class action case need educated, experienced attorneys like those at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. Because corporations will resist having to pay damages to every single victim in the class, the process of filing a class action lawsuit can be a complicated and expensive process.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and knowledge to guide our clients through class action litigation from start to finish. Our law firm also has the financial resources to enable our clients stand toe-to-toe with some of the biggest corporations in the world and pursue the damages to which they are entitled.

For more information about filing a class action claim, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling our toll-free number at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.

by John Chapman

John Chapman is a licensed attorney with experience in complex commercial litigation (including securities fraud, RICO, shareholder oppression, and derivative actions) and personal injury litigation.