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  1. #1
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    Aug 2019
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    Default Got Sued for Nonpayment of Expenses Created by the Suing Party

    My question involves independent contractors in the state of: California

    I am being sued for a total payment of $1,300 for which I plan to fight the best I can as I feel the suing party is at fault rather than me. After my response papers have been filed with the court, the collection agency contacted me and offered that I could agree to pay up now or otherwise the cost for me could increase to over $3,000 as there will be hefty additional costs for going to trial. Our conversation was too brief for me to find out how my costs could increase to more than what I was being sued for.

    My questions:

    1) I thought under the worst scenario, I'll have to pay just the $1,300. How could this get increased to over $3000 by going to trial?

    2) I feel I have a good chance of winning a jury trial. Would I be able to have this just by paying the $150 jury trial fee?

    3) A Case Management Conference has been scheduled. What is typically done at the Case Management Conference? Will there be a mediation, or will I be able to insist on moving to a trial?

    More backgrounds of the case:

    I am a Medicare recipient who had my first colonoscopy performed by a clinic in 2015 and this was duly paid for by medicare. Under the doctor's advice, I returned in 2018 to have another colonoscopy performed. At the time of registration, I was asked about my insurance and my answer was that I had both Medicare and Kaiser coverage believing this to be true. Unfortunately, it turns out that both Medicare and Kaiser declined to pay as I should have the colonoscopy done by Kaiser doctors and the cost will be paid by Kaiser. Now the clinic is suing me for violating a financial responsibility statement I signed for my first colonoscopy done. My defence will be based on 1) The financial responsibility statement was a one-time use agreement and does not apply for the second time. 2) The clinic being the professionals that they are, should know that under the circumstance, the cost of my colonoscopy is covered only if the procedure is done by Kaiser. But for me, I have no such knowledge clearly illustrated by my statement that I had both Medicare and Kaiser coverages.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,957

    Default Re: Got Sued for Nonpayment of Expenses Created by the Suing Party

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    1) I thought under the worst scenario, I'll have to pay just the $1,300. How could this get increased to over $3000 by going to trial?
    Often contracts with medical providers and lenders will include a provision that says in the case of a dispute between you the winner also gets to recover his legal fees and costs and other costs of collection. If your contract has such a provision in it then if they win they get to tack on the legal fees and other costs too. Read the contract to see what it says.

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    2) I feel I have a good chance of winning a jury trial. Would I be able to have this just by paying the $150 jury trial fee?
    You need to timely pay the fee and make the demand for a jury. See California Code of Civil Procedure section 631. Note that you need to pay the fee before the case management conference.

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    3) A Case Management Conference has been scheduled. What is typically done at the Case Management Conference? Will there be a mediation, or will I be able to insist on moving to a trial?
    Typically it would involve discussing what things remain to be done prior to trial, what efforts might be done as alternatives to trial (like mediation), and scheduling the upcoming actions in the case. it would not typically involve mediation itself. For a case like this there might not be a whole lot to cover.

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    My defence will be based on 1) The financial responsibility statement was a one-time use agreement and does not apply for the second time.
    The problem is that even if the court agreed with that you still did get the service and would owe the reasonable value of that service. No judge or jury is going to say that you get the service for free.

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    2) The clinic being the professionals that they are, should know that under the circumstance, the cost of my colonoscopy is covered only if the procedure is done by Kaiser. But for me, I have no such knowledge clearly illustrated by my statement that I had both Medicare and Kaiser coverages.
    The problem with this is that thy clinic has no legal obligation to check your coverage for you. That is your responsibility. You had Kaiser insurance and it was your duty to know what the policy covered and what doctors you could use. Often they will check for you, but in the end it's your insurance and thus your obligation to know how your policy works.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    8

    Default Re: Got Sued for Nonpayment of Expenses Created by the Suing Party

    I appreciate the succinct and informative reply very much. A new question is this: Since there is now perhaps $3,500 at stake rather than just the $1,300 actual amount owed, I should perhaps try to negotiate a settlement rather than going to trial. If I do this, should I just discuss this at the Case Management Conference, or should I try to discuss this with the collection agency before that? Also, if the case will not go to trial then, is my exposure limited to $1,300 or the collection agency can still tack on additional charges? Thank you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,957

    Default Re: Got Sued for Nonpayment of Expenses Created by the Suing Party

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    I appreciate the succinct and informative reply very much. A new question is this: Since there is now perhaps $3,500 at stake rather than just the $1,300 actual amount owed, I should perhaps try to negotiate a settlement rather than going to trial. If I do this, should I just discuss this at the Case Management Conference, or should I try to discuss this with the collection agency before that? Also, if the case will not go to trial then, is my exposure limited to $1,300 or the collection agency can still tack on additional charges? Thank you.
    If you wish to settle, I suggest contacting the law firm handling the case and make your offer. That's probably best done outside the case management conference itself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,365

    Default Re: Got Sued for Nonpayment of Expenses Created by the Suing Party

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    1) I thought under the worst scenario, I'll have to pay just the $1,300. How could this get increased to over $3000 by going to trial?
    It's possible (and, based on your description of the facts, likely) that you could end up being liable for the plaintiff's attorneys' fees and costs of suit. It's probably relatively unlikely that the court would award fees in excess of the amount being sued for (esp. since the original creditor could have taken care of this matter itself in small claims court rather than handing the matter over to a collection agency). However, it could end up pretty close.


    Quote Quoting gent88
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    2) I feel I have a good chance of winning a jury trial. Would I be able to have this just by paying the $150 jury trial fee?
    There's no such thing as a "$150 jury trial fee." Depending on the county where your case is pending, you may have to pay a $150 DEPOSIT toward jury fees, but the actual fees will be much more. But seeking a jury trial for such a small case would be beyond silly, and I'm skeptical that you even have a right to one for such a small case (I've never had occasion to research that, so I don't know for sure).


    Quote Quoting gent88
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    3) A Case Management Conference has been scheduled. What is typically done at the Case Management Conference?
    Each case is unique. Among other things, the parties or their counsel will discuss when to set trial and alternative dispute resolution.


    Quote Quoting gent88
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    Will there be a mediation, or will I be able to insist on moving to a trial?
    A small case such as yours will be subject to mandatory dispute resolution. You can refuse to settle at mediation or a settlement conference, but you will be required to participate in good faith.

    Quote Quoting gent88
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    Since there is now perhaps $3,500 at stake rather than just the $1,300 actual amount owed, I should perhaps try to negotiate a settlement rather than going to trial. If I do this, should I just discuss this at the Case Management Conference, or should I try to discuss this with the collection agency before that? Also, if the case will not go to trial then, is my exposure limited to $1,300 or the collection agency can still tack on additional charges? Thank you.
    If you want to try and settle, contact the plaintiff's attorney as soon as possible. The possible damages are not limited to what's alleged in the complaint, but the collection agency plaintiff cannot simply "tack on" charges out of thin air.

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