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Published: Saturday, 1/22/2005

Judge dismisses suit targeting ProMedica

A federal judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Toledo-based ProMedica Health System over how much it charges uninsured patients.

The dismissal by U.S. District Judge James Carr of Toledo comes a week after a similar lawsuit was dismissed against Catholic Healthcare Partners, which is the parent company of Mercy Health Partners.

ProMedica and Catholic Healthcare were two of almost 50 nonprofit hospitals or health systems sued last year by attorneys working with Mississippi attorney Richard Scruggs, the same lawyer who earned millions of dollars and a national reputation for his lawsuits against tobacco and asbestos companies.

Some of the lawsuits against other hospitals also have been dismissed by federal courts, though some suits could be refiled in state courts.

Mr. Scruggs and his clients alleged that ProMedica and some Catholic Healthcare facilities were not meeting their obligations as nonprofits and were unfairly charging high amounts to uninsured patients.

Jeff Kuhn, ProMedica Health System's general counsel, said in a statement: "We are extremely gratified that the claims have been dismissed. We have always maintained that the case lacked merit."

Toledo attorney David Zoll, the local lawyer suing ProMedica, said he's not surprised the federal case was dismissed, but said now he'll just pursue the case in state court where it's still pending.

"We're going to very aggressively pursue our state court remedies," he said.

The ProMedica parent includes Toledo Hospital, Toledo Children's Hospital, Flower Hospital in Sylvania, Bay Park Community Hospital in Oregon, Defiance Regional Medical Center, and Fostoria Community Hospital.

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