COA: Firm has no private cause of action to gain back fees

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a decision that denied HealthPort’s motion for judgment against Garrison Law Firm LLC after it found Garrison did not have a private cause of action under Indiana law or Administrative Code.

Garrison sought health care information about six potential clients from their medical providers. HealthPort looked for information, but did not find any. However, HealthPort still charged Garrison a $20 labor fee for each client to cover the costs of the information gathering, which Garrison begrudgingly paid.

Garrison filed a class-action complaint, charging HealthPort violated Indiana Code 15-39-9-4 when it charged a labor fee when no documents were produced. HealthPort field a motion for judgment on the pleadings, but the trial court denied it after a hearing. HealthPort appealed.

The COA said determining a private right of action begins with legislative intent. The COA found the statute was designed to protect a general public rather than a private party and also includes an enforcement mechanism.

 “As a general rule, a private party may not enforce rights under a statute designed to protect the public in general that contains a comprehensive enforcement mechanism,” Judge Randolph Pyle wrote in the decision. The court relied on Indiana Code 16-39-9-4 and 760 Administrative Code 1-71-3 to come to its decision.

“We cannot glean any legislative intent to authorize a private right of action by a personal injury attorney against a medical records company, and we are unwilling to go beyond the intent of the legislature,” Pyle wrote later.

Because there was no private cause of action, the COA remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to grant HealthPort’s motion.

The case is HealthPort Technologies, LLC v. Garrison Law Firm, LLC, 49A02-1502-PL-99.

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