Providence Medical Center is suing me for a $3000 bill from 1/2012. I suspected errors due to the size of the original bill, which only showed a date of service and amount, and I asked for an itemized bill. I was sent to collections without receiving an itemized bill. Two months ago I received an itemized bill from the collections agency, which shows improper billing practices which constitute fraud by the False Claims Act. I suspected this. So now that I know the bills were incorrect, can I file a counterclaim for the overcharges and fraudulent charges? Is there an appropriate statutory or punative amount for deliberate consumer overcharges (like 3x the charges)?
I strongly advise you to invest the time in a consultation with a local consumer law attorney. Most attorneys, including our office, offers a free consultation to help consumers like you assess situations like this.
If you do have viable consumer law claims against the creditor, then you may be able to have legal representation that does not cost you anything out of pocket.
It is difficult to represent oneself in counterclaims like you suggest, as the legal procedures, and nuances of proving a claim, create obstacles that are difficult to overcome. The Federal False Claims Act, for example, is a complicated federal statute and is an expensive and technical claim to bring.
Best of luck,
Tim L. Eblen
I believe the False Claims Act deals with claims made to obtain improper payment from the federal government.
As a practical matter, you can raise the question of the billing deficiencies and errors with the claimant and the collection agency, or in court. However, the fact that there may be some errors in the billing does not prove fraud, and does not let you off the hook for the charges that are valid. You can challenge the amount due in court, and it is their burden to prove what is due. But you may be able to justify some kind of settlement without going through a trial.
This comment is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship and obviously is not confidential. You should contact an attorney in your area who can review with you all of the relevant facts and give you specific legal advice.
For specific questions like this that will affect your legal rights and responsibilities in the future, it is best to bring the situation to a bankruptcy attorney (many do free initial consultations).
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