HLD, v. 33, n. 6 (June 2005)
U.S. Court In Texas
Dismisses Charitable Care Action Against Tax-Exempt Hospital
This case is one of numerous class
action suits that have sprung up around the country on behalf of uninsured
patients claiming that non-profit hospitals charged unreasonable and excessive
fees for medical care to their uninsured patients. The plaintiffs argue that,
because the hospitals are tax-exempt, they have a duty to provide discounted
treatment to those unable to pay. In this case, plaintiff Yalonda
Bobo moved to remand the case to state court after
defendant Christus Health removed the case to federal
court. The court denied Bobo's request and the
parties cross-moved for dismissal.
District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, in a harshly worded opinion, held
that Bobo should not be able to voluntarily dismiss
her claims in order to avoid the "expected adverse result" that plaintiffs
nationwide have thus far experienced in the courts. Therefore, the court
refused to allow Bobo to voluntarily dismiss her claim
and went on to consider the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings.
detailing the issues in the case, the court adopted the reasoning in Kolari v. New York Presbyterian Hosp., No. 04 Civ. 5506 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 29, 2005) another almost
indistinguishable class action suit. In Kolari as in the
instant case, the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Christus' tax-exempt status does not create
a binding contract between it and the government, held the court, nor does it
confer a private right of action on individuals to enforce that contract.
also opted to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law
claims as did the court in Kolari. Here, the
court found that "plaintiff's state law claims, like her federal claims, are
indispensably premised on the hospital's tax-exempt status." Therefore, the
court dismissed plaintiff's federal and state law claims with prejudice.
Bobo v. Christus Health, No. 1:04-CV-626
Apr. 26, 2005).