Certification Denied In Challenge Of Hospital Liens Under FDUTPA


[author: Adam Koppel]

In Baptist Hospital, Inc. v. Baker, No. 11-5236, 2012 WL 1150211 (Fla. 1st DCA Apr. 9, 2012), the First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision to certify a class of individuals challenging liens imposed by Baptist Hospital, Inc. under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”).

The trial court defined the class as those persons who paid money to satisfy liens for services rendered by member hospitals for which the hospital corporation billed an insurance provider.  The First District Court of Appeal began its analysis by noting that a FDUTPA claimant must have suffered actual damages, which are “the difference in the market value of the product or service in the condition in which it was delivered and its market value in the condition it should have been delivered according to the contract of the parties.”  Id. at *2.  From this, the Court found the class representative lacked standing to assert a claim for damages because he testified during deposition that he had no issues with the services he was provided or the amount which he was billed, and therefore, he did not suffer actual damages.  Id. at *2-3.

In addition, the Court held that the class representative failed to satisfy the typicality requirement.  Noting that that the key inquiry on typicality is “whether the class representative is part of the class and possesses the same interest and suffers the same injury as the class members,” the Court found that his claims were not typical of the class a whole because the class included other members who “may allege that the services were unreasonable or that the billing was incorrect or that [the hospital corporation] failed to bill insurance services.” Id. at *3.


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