Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif., filed a countersuit against the uninsured patients named in a year-old civil class action that alleged price discrimination and unfair collection policies by the 25-hospital system. Sutter asked state court in Sacramento to determine how much uninsured patients should pay for care provided by Sutter and to issue an order compelling payment. Sutter said the named plaintiffs agreed to pay for services but had not done so, and it accused them of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and failure to pay debts. A Sutter spokeswoman said the countersuit was a procedural move intended to preserve the system's legal rights when the class of patients eligible for the suit is defined and that Sutter would not seek payment from patients qualifying for its charity-care policy. An attorney for Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein of San Francisco, the law firm that filed the class-action suit, characterized Sutter's move as "one of the more hostile and aggressive litigation tactics I've seen." In July, a judge rejected Sutter's motion to dismiss the case. -- by Mark Taylor
Sutter seeks order for uninsured plaintiffs to pay up
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