The legal consortium led by Oxford, Miss., attorney Richard Scruggs completed its first settlement with a hospital over its billing of uninsured patients, Modern Healthcare has learned. St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital in Jackson, Miss., settled with local father-and-son legal team Sonny and David Merideth. According to David Merideth, the hospital signed a confidentiality agreement with St. Dominic and its terms are undisclosed. The Merideths sued St. Dominic and its collection agency, Advanced Recovery Systems, on behalf of patient Anthony Simon, in Hines County, Miss., state court in May 2004 as part of the Scruggs' litigation. Officials for St. Dominic, owned by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., were unavailable for comment.
The decision is Scruggs' first victory in state court suits after mixed results so far and a string of unfavorable decisions in federal court. Scruggs' state court effort was dealt a blow Monday when a Georgia judge tossed out on their merits lawsuits against Phoebe Putney Health System and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, Ga. And Scruggs' first, widely publicized plan to settle with North Mississippi Medical Center over a federal suit fell apart in April. Chicago attorney Ed Bryant of the firm Gardner, Carton & Douglas, whose firm represents some of the hospitals sued in the Scruggs litigation but not St. Dominic, said because the settlement is confidential it won't greatly affect the pending Scruggs litigation or spur a rash of settlements. -- by Mark Taylor