Author Topic: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)  (Read 615 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

JoblessManchild

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 16
Hello,

This post concerns a case recently filed against me in Tennessee's General Sessions Court. The law firm suing me is called Wakefield and Associates, formerly Revenue Recovery Corporation, in Knoxville, TN.

Over the summer, I received a demand letter from an attorney claiming to represent a hospital physicians group. I was shocked, because on the date of service listed in the letter, I was on Medicaid and would not have been liable for hospital bills. I called the firm to investigate, and they gave me a brief summary of the debt along with the OC's account number. They insist that they do not "own debt," and are collecting on behalf of the original creditor.

I call the OC to verify, and they say that the account number doesn't even match their format. Later, I get "documentation" from the firm in the mail. There are two statements, one from the firm, and one supposedly from the original creditor. I become increasingly suspicious, as the one from the OC has my current address on it, which they had only acquired the week before when I gave it to them. Also, when I went to the OC's website listed on the statement, the account number is showing "no outstanding invoices."

I am very confused at this point, so I call the OC again and give them more information. Eventually they were able to bring up an unpaid debt matching the one the firm gave me, but they insisted that it had been sold multiple times, with Wakefield being the most recent buyer (they acquired it in a merger). One agent actually laughed out loud when I told her that there was a firm claiming to represent them in a lawsuit that THEY were going to file.

But sure enough, I receive the summons, and the OC is listed as the plaintiff. What this means is that all parties involved are denying ownership of the debt, and yet I am still being sued. It's not a lot of money, but the demands on my time and energy have been overwhelming. I can't sleep, I very nearly dropped out of school (again), and I've missed work. I've been researching this exhaustively to no avail. It's like Tennessee doesn't even have laws.

Here is the chain of custody that I've been able to construct based on the fragments of information I get from people:

1. Southeastern Physician Services supposedly rendered the services.

2. It was "sold" to Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group (HRRG), a closely affiliated group. I think "sold" is being used liberally here.

3. HRRG "sold" it to Revenue Recovery Corporation (RRC).

4. RRC was bought out by Wakefield and Associates.

5. Wakefield and Associates transferred it to their internal "legal department," whatever that means.

6. Southeastern Physician Services, the OC, filed suit, years later, using an attorney from Wakefield and Associates. Or rather, Wakefield and Associates filed suit "on their behalf," which is how the last agent phrased it. The affidavit on sworn account was signed by an employee of Wakefield and Associates.


My main questions:

1. Is it legal to pose as an original creditor in this way? It seems wrong, but I can't find any rules or cases concerning it, and I don't have hard evidence that the debt was sold, just hearsay from the previous owners. The firm keeps saying vague things like "we're representing this account," like the account itself is the plaintiff.

2. Do I have any real defenses? I don't want to give up the fight, but a judgment on my credit report would be devastating to my family. I don't know if it's worth it anymore.

3. Can you give me any advice on General Sessions Court? I've already had one hearing (I filed a motion to dismiss), and it just seemed so disorganized. I'm honestly terrified now.

fisthardcheese

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 3840
  • They forced arbitration into your contract. Use it
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2017 05:56:06 PM »
Immediately call several attorneys that do FDCPA work.  Run this by them and see if you can't just find one that is willing to take your case at no upfront cost to you.

I would also check the date of your medical service and see how that compares to your state Statute of Limitations on debt.
11 Arb Settlements (9 AAA, 2 JAMS)
3 JDB Suits Dismissed With Prejudice (2 pro-se, 1 consumer atty)
3 TCPA Settlements (2 pro-se, 1 consumer atty)
2 FCRA Settlements (consumer atty)
1 FDCPA Settlement (w consumer atty)
1 Small Claims Win (pro-se; Landlord/state consumer law violations)
1 State UDAP Settlement (ITS)
1 Federal PTC Settlement (before hearing; pro-se)

JoblessManchild

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 16
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2017 06:28:49 PM »
Do you know how I might be able to find an FDCPA attorney? I've found attorneys who seem to do everything but debtor's defense, and FDCPA searches bring up a lot of out-of-state advertisements. I might just be looking in the wrong places, but it feels like a wasteland here.

As far as getting an attorney to defend myself, it might not be worth it. The suit is less than $1000, so I'd be better off paying. I'm more worried about the damage it would do to my credit. I'd never fully recover.

It's definitely within the SOL, which is six years in Tennessee.

JoblessManchild

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 16
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2017 07:10:03 PM »
Also, is there any way to dispute medical bills in court? The copy they gave me looked like a poor quality fax, but I don't have proof that it was forged, only a hunch because it contradicts what the OC told me. It seems like an account statement could ruin my chances of winning, but that's just a guess. How do you fight a fake statement?

CleaningUp

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 10650
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2017 07:51:31 PM »
Have you spoken to Medicaid about this?

Clydesmom66

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 2145
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2017 08:17:36 PM »
Also, is there any way to dispute medical bills in court? The copy they gave me looked like a poor quality fax, but I don't have proof that it was forged, only a hunch because it contradicts what the OC told me.

I would object to the document as being illegible and a faxed copy not being reliable.  I would demand an authenticated copy or original or that this evidence be excluded.

I received a demand letter from an attorney claiming to represent a hospital physicians group. I was shocked, because on the date of service listed in the letter, I was on Medicaid and would not have been liable for hospital bills.

The one area that could fall outside Medicaid is the physicians group.  Not all physicians are participating Medicaid providers and that does not mean that the patient is not responsible.  It is the opposite.  If the physician or their group is not a participating Medicaid provider they are not required to take it as payment and the patient is responsible for the bill.  You need to start there and find out if the service was even covered by Medicaid.

If it should of been then one of my defenses would be the provider erred in not billing Medicaid as required and therefore waived their right to collect from the patient directly.

As for FDCPA attorneys.  There really are not any in TN.   Try searching at www.consumeradvocates.org
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

JoblessManchild

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 16
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2017 10:18:36 PM »
Quote
You need to start there and find out if the service was even covered by Medicaid.

The billing service for the physicians group has actually been sued for overbilling Medicaid recently. I'm not sure if that means anything, but it's a good sign. Otherwise, it's really difficult to tell at this point. The bill was from years ago. As it was an emergency room bill, I imagine it would be covered. Again, it's impossible to know for sure.

Clydesmom66

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 2145
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2017 11:03:02 PM »
As it was an emergency room bill, I imagine it would be covered. Again, it's impossible to know for sure.

Actually it is the opposite.  An ER bill makes it more likely that the contracted physicians group was not a Medicaid provider at the time and therefore you might be responsible for the bill.  Again you need to start with Medicaid and find out if this provider was contracted at the time you went to the ER and if the provider billed them if they were. 

It isn't impossible to know.  You are going to have to do some work to defend yourself in this if you cannot hire an attorney. 
Be VERY careful following advice from the internet! What worked for someone with thousands of posts on a message board may not work for YOU in your state.  Consult a lawyer when ever possible.

CleaningUp

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 10650
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2017 03:31:02 AM »
And you're going to have to do the basic shoe leather work to be able to give the attorney something to use to help you.

Your problem with ER services is manifold...the hospital charges for the room and the nurses and some of the supplies.  The doctors and anesthetists bill separately.  Then you get to whether each one or anyone accepts the payments, whether the Docs and/or hospitals are in network or out.  All of those can complicate the billing pages and the checks needed to cover the negotiated amounts due.

But if you're not covered or under covered by insurance or Medicaid, you run up against that form you signed on admission that gave them the right to test and treat,  the right to bill Medicare or insurance, and gave them your personal guarantee that you will pay if they don't.

Given the last, you are likely not going to be able to dodge the bill unless you can demonstrate that it was someone else's responsibility.

You'll need to find out the correct amount due and what Medicaid did to pay it.

The copy of the bill that you have trouble reading was probably a print of a scan or microfiche  from the hospital...at least that would be great I would approach it until I had a better idea of what has happened.

Don't be afraid to spend all the time you need on the phone to get the proper and correct answers. Their job is to give correct answers.

When you get finished with the assessments, come back andtell us what you have found.  We can tell you were you might win, and where you surely will lose, and how to go about mounting a defense.

You've got some time pressure, so the sooner you can get at it, the better.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017 03:44:23 AM by CleaningUp »

fisthardcheese

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 3840
  • They forced arbitration into your contract. Use it
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2017 10:27:44 AM »
Do you know how I might be able to find an FDCPA attorney? I've found attorneys who seem to do everything but debtor's defense, and FDCPA searches bring up a lot of out-of-state advertisements. I might just be looking in the wrong places, but it feels like a wasteland here.

As far as getting an attorney to defend myself, it might not be worth it. The suit is less than $1000, so I'd be better off paying. I'm more worried about the damage it would do to my credit. I'd never fully recover.

It's definitely within the SOL, which is six years in Tennessee.

Did you google FDCPA + [your state] ?  That is a pretty easy way to find some attorneys in your state.

Like I said, if an attorney agrees that they are pretending to be the OC to sue you, then it is very likely they won't charge you anything to defend you and you may even end up getting paid yourself.
11 Arb Settlements (9 AAA, 2 JAMS)
3 JDB Suits Dismissed With Prejudice (2 pro-se, 1 consumer atty)
3 TCPA Settlements (2 pro-se, 1 consumer atty)
2 FCRA Settlements (consumer atty)
1 FDCPA Settlement (w consumer atty)
1 Small Claims Win (pro-se; Landlord/state consumer law violations)
1 State UDAP Settlement (ITS)
1 Federal PTC Settlement (before hearing; pro-se)

JoblessManchild

  • Valued Member
  • Posts: 16
Re: Sued by law firm posing as creditor. Both denied ownership. (Tennessee)
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2017 01:29:56 AM »
Sorry for the inactivity. I just finished final exams and the call docket is tomorrow, so things have been chaotic.

I don't think I'll even have an occasion to involve Medicaid in my defense. The bigger issue is the plaintiff's standing to sue, and the fact that they've likely named the wrong party, which is how this got to be such a mess in the first place. Depending on the story they give me tomorrow, I'll have a better idea of how to go about fighting it. Right now, I don't even know who's technically suing me.

It's worth mentioning that I didn't have trouble reading the bill. It's not illegible. However, the creditors have no invoice on file, so I'm thinking it might be a bill from the law firm made to look like a hospital bill. I have no proof one way or another, but their entire file is piecemeal.

 

credit