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Carter v. Healthport Technologies, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. New York

March 31, 2015

MARISSA CARTER, EVELYN GRYS, BRUCE CURRIER, SHARON KONING, SUE BEEHLER, MARSHA MANCUSO, and JACLYN CUTHBERTSON, as individuals and as representatives of the classes, Plaintiffs,
v.
HEALTHPORT TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, THE ROCHESTER GENERAL HOSPITAL, THE UNITY HOSPITAL OF ROCHESTER, and F.F. THOMPSON HOSPITAL, INC., Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

FRANK P. GERACI, Jr., Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This case is a putative class action lawsuit filed on behalf of individuals in New York State who requested copies of their medical records from HealthPort Technologies, LLC ("HealthPort"), Rochester General Hospital ("RGH"), Unity Hospital of Rochester ("Unity"), and F.F. Thompson Hospital, Inc. ("FFT") (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants overcharged them for making copies of the requested records, and bring claims for money damages under New York Public Health Law § 18, which sets a ceiling on such fees; under New York General Business Law § 349, which prohibits deceptive trade practices; and for unjust enrichment.

On June 19, 2014 and July 21, 2014, Defendants moved, in separate motions, to dismiss the Complaint (ECF Nos. 9, 20, 21) under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing that the Plaintiffs lack standing to bring this action, and further, that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. For the following reasons, the Motions are granted, and the Complaint is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

The named Plaintiffs in this case - Marissa Carter, Evelyn Grys, Bruce Currier, Sharon Koning, Sue Beehler, Marsha Mancuso, and Jaclyn Cuthbertson - seek to represent a class of similarly situated individuals who, according to the Complaint, were overcharged for copies of medical records from the named Defendants. In short, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants charged a blanket rate of $0.75 per page for copies of their medical records, when New York Law requires them to only charge their actual expenses, but in no event can those expenses be more than $0.75 per page. Plaintiffs further allege that certain unauthorized "delivery charges" were added on top of the copying costs, and allege that all of these excessive costs were devised and charged as part of a scheme between the Defendants to artificially generate profits.

The requests for medical records by the Plaintiffs from the Defendants and the payment for these records are at the heart of the Complaint, and the allegations regarding those requests and payments take the same form for each of the seven Plaintiffs. For example, regarding Plaintiff Carter, the Complaint alleges that:

Plaintiff Carter was a patient at RGH. ECF No. 1, ¶ 33. On or about September 5, 2013, Carter requested medical records from RGH through her counsel. ECF No. 1, ¶ 34. On or about October 1, 2013, HealthPort, acting on behalf of RGH, sent an invoice, which indicated that Carter would be charged $77.00 for 100 pages of medical records ($0.75 per page, plus a $2.00 "Electronic Dlvry Fee"). ECF No. 1, ¶ 35. On or about October 7, 2013, Carter paid the $77.00 charge through her counsel in order to obtain copies of the requested medical records. ECF No. 1, ¶ 36.

Regarding Plaintiff Mancuso, the Complaint similarly alleges that:

Plaintiff Mancuso was a patient at Unity. ECF No. 1, ¶ 77. On or about January 17. 2013, Mancuso requested medical records from Unity through her counsel. ECF No. 1, ¶ 78. On or about January 28, 2013, HealthPort, acting on behalf of Unity, sent an invoice, which indicated that Mancuso would be charged $544.25 for 723 pages of medical records ($0.75 per page, plus a $2.00 "Electronic Dlvry Fee"). ECF No. 1, ¶ 79. On or about February 5, 2013, Mancuso paid the $544.25 charge through her counsel in order to obtain copies of the requested medical records. ECF No. 1, ¶ 80.

The Complaint makes the same allegations for each of the seven named Defendants, although the dates and overall amounts are unique to each Defendant. Further, while each Plaintiff makes claims against HealthPort for ultimately providing the records, Plaintiffs Carter, Grys, and Currier make claims against RGH, whom they made their requests through, Plaintiffs Koning, Beehler, and Mancuso make claims against Unity, whom they made their requests through, and Plaintiff Cuthbertson make her claim against FFT, whom she made her request through. ECF No. 1. Based upon these record requests and the resultant charges, each Plaintiff alleges that the fees charged "exceeded the cost to produce these medical records, and included a built-in kickback from HealthPort to [the relevant hospital]." ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 39, 46, 53, 59, 64, 69, 76, 83, 90. As such, they claim to have suffered damages from paying amounts in excess of the actual cost to produce the requested medical records. ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 107, 109.

In lieu of answering the Complaint, each of the Defendants has filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF Nos. 9, 20, 21. The Plaintiffs have responded to each of the Motions (ECF Nos. 26, 27, 28), and the Defendants have filed their replies. ECF Nos. 33, 34, 35. In addition, the Court received a letter brief from Plaintiffs' counsel on September 3, 2014, which I have filed on the public docket. ECF No. 36. As such, the Motions are fully briefed and ripe for decision.

DISCUSSION

Because it is jurisdictional, I must first consider the Defendants' argument that the Plaintiffs lack standing to bring this case. See Rhulen Agency, Inc. v. Ala. Ins. Guar. Ass'n, 896 F.2d 674, 678 (2d Cir.1990) ("[T]he court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1) challenge first since if it must dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the ...


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