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Wisconsin Appeals Court Finds No Breach Of Contract Between Provider And Company Providing Records Release Services

 
 

HLD, v. 32, n. 11 (November 2004)

Wisconsin Appeals Court Finds No Breach Of Contract Between Provider And Company Providing Records Release Services

All Saints Healthcare System, Inc. (All Saints) entered into a contract with Midwest Medical Records Associates (MMRA) in which MMRA would provide release of information (ROI) services for All Saints, including maintaining All Saints' medical records and responding to requests for copies of medical records.

A class action lawsuit was filed against All Saints claiming that it was charging unreasonable and exorbitant fees for certain ROI services in violation of Wis. Stat. � 146.83(1)(b). The statute provides that upon submitting a statement of informed consent, a patient may "receive a copy of the patient's health care records upon payment of reasonable costs."

All Saints cross-claimed against MMRA, claiming breach of contract, breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and the right to equitable contribution and or/indemnification. The trial court granted summary judgment to MMRA. All Saints appealed.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed. The appeals court first noted that the trial court found that � 146.83(1)(b) does not apply to MMRA because it is not a healthcare provider and All Saints did not challenge that ruling on appeal. Instead, All Saints argued that MMRA breached its contract by warranting that it would follow all state and federal regulations in regard to the release of information and that charging unreasonable fees was a violation of law.

The appeals court found, however, that the contract itself specified the prices to be charged by MMRA for providing copies of medical records; therefore, MMRA could not be in breach of the contract for charging those prices. The appeals also rejected All Saints' argument that by warranting that it would comply with all applicable regulations, MMRA in effect warranted that the fee schedule in the contract complied with law. The contract provided that MMRA could not change the rates without All Saints' consent, thus the contract could not be "construed to include a warranty that MMRA would charge rates other than those specified in the contract."

The appeals court also noted that All Saints was under no obligation to agree to the rates in the contract and could have demanded other rates if it deemed the proposed rates to be unreasonable.

Lastly, the appeals court held that the trial court properly dismissed All Saints' claim for indemnification or contribution because "the contract contained no provision for either."

Cruz v. All Saints Healthcare Sys., Inc., No. 03-1052, 2004 WL 2236631 (Wis. Ct. App. Oct. 6, 2004). To read the case, go to http://www.courts.state.wi.us/ca/opinions/03/pdf/03-1052.pdf

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