The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said a workers’ compensation insurance patient can sue two healthcare providers after they billed her for care.
Justices unanimously upheld a 2nd District Court of Appeal decision that allowed Patty Davis to pursue a lawsuit under a law known as the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.
Davis suffered an on-the-job injury in December 2013 and applied for workers’ compensation benefits. As part of those benefits, she received a chest X-ray from Sheridan Radiology Services of Pinellas, Inc., a subsidiary of Sheridan Healthcare, Inc., and testing from Laboratory Corporation of America and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, according to court documents.
Sheridan and Labcorp repeatedly billed Davis, who said her employer’s workers’ compensation insurer was responsible for payments. Davis alleged in lawsuits that the billing attempts were “an attempt to collect an illegitimate debt” under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, according to the Supreme Court.
Sheridan and Labcorp argued the issue was about workers’ compensation reimbursement that should be resolved by the Florida Department of Financial Services, not under the consumer collection practices law.
A Hillsborough County circuit judge agreed with the companies and dismissed Davis’ claims. But a panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 2019 reversed that decision, while asking the Supreme Court to take up the matter.
In a 19-page opinion, justices said the dispute was not a reimbursement issue that would be decided by the Department of Financial Services, which oversees the workers’ compensation system.
“The dispute here arises from alleged prohibited billing, which involves the relationship between the billing provider and the billed injured worker,” the opinion said. “This is distinct from reimbursement matters, which involve the relationship between the provider and the carrier.”