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Published: Tuesday, 9/19/2006

Award in ambulance case is cut

A three-judge appellate court panel has ruled unanimously that Toledo Municipal Court Judge Francis X. Gorman went too far last year when he ordered an ambulance company to pay $5,000 in punitive damages to a woman who was overcharged for a medical run.

The Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals upheld the decision of Judge Gorman that MedCorp had overcharged Veria Hailey for emergency services she received in March, 2002, after she was involved in a traffic accident.

However, Judge William Skow, in writing for the panel, said in a decision released Friday that Ms. Hailey was not entitled to the $1 in compensatory and $5,000 in punitive damages that Judge Gorman awarded to deter future billing conduct.

Judge Skow, who was joined in the decision by Judges Mark Pietrykowski and Dennis Parish, said there was no legal basis for damages.

Ms. Hailey, who complained of dizziness, was transported to the hospital and charged $961 for advanced life support by MedCorp, which has a contract with Lucas County Emergency Medical Services.

After hearing testimony from witnesses, Judge Gorman reduced her bill to $461, finding the extra costs unreasonable and unconscionable and that the incorrect billing was intentional.

Jacob Lowenstein, an attorney who represents MedCorp, said he had not discussed the ruling with his client, and would be unable to comment or say whether an appeal would be filed.

Dan Nathan, an attorney for the plaintiff, said he wouldn't comment on the opinion.



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