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Marchant v. Boulder Community Health, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Third Division

August 23, 2018

Jean Marchant, as guardian of Krista Marchant, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Boulder Community Health, Inc.; and Cardon Outreach, LLC, a foreign corporation, Defendants-Appellees.

          Boulder County District Court No. 16CV30445 Honorable Thomas F. Mulvahill, Judge

          Bold, Educated Lawyering LLC, Thomas D. Russel, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant

          Hall & Evans, L.L.C., Alan Epstein, Denver, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees

          Webb and Fox, JJ., concur

          OPINION

          JUDGE MÁRQUEZ [*]

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff, Jean Marchant, as guardian of Krista Marchant, appeals the summary judgment in favor of defendants, Boulder Community Health, Inc. (BCH), and Cardon Outreach, LLC (Cardon), regarding her right to seek damages of twice the amount of a hospital lien filed in violation of section 38-27-101, C.R.S. 2017, (the hospital lien statute) against her daughter. We affirm.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 The record shows the following undisputed facts. Krista Marchant, plaintiff's daughter, was struck by an automobile and received medical treatment from BCH in November 2015, for which BCH billed $27, 681.10. Cardon, as an agent for BCH, filed with the Colorado Secretary of State a statutory lien in that amount "upon the net amount payable to [daughter], . . . or [her] legal representatives . . . as damages on account of such injuries," on December 10, 2015, without first billing the daughter's insurance company.

         ¶ 3 On February 10, 2016, BCH made an insurance "adjustment" to reduce the bill by $19, 903.99 and billed daughter's medical insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), the next day. BCBS paid $6999.37 on February 23, leaving a balance of $777.74.

          ¶ 4 On March 17, Cardon amended the lien to $777.74, the remaining balance of daughter's medical charges. The parties agree that plaintiff filed a complaint against BCH and Cardon on April 19, while the lien for $777.74 was in effect, but this complaint is not part of the appellate record. Plaintiff paid $777.74 on April 30, and Cardon released the lien on May 11, 2016. Later, plaintiff filed an amended complaint, asserting, as relevant to this appeal, a claim for violation of the hospital lien statute against BCH and Cardon.

         ¶ 5 In response to cross-motions for determinations of a question of law under C.R.C.P. 56(h), the district court ruled, as a matter of law, that section 38-27-101(7) "only provides standing" for a lawsuit if the plaintiff "'is subject to' an improper lien at the time he or she files the legal action," and "does not allow an individual to file a damages lawsuit . . . where the claim arises out of an improper lien filing which has been cured prior to filing." Based on this interpretation, the court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         A. The Hospital Lien Statute

         ¶ 6 Before August 5, 2015, the hospital lien statute provided that hospitals "shall . . . have a lien for all reasonable and necessary charges for hospital care upon the net amount payable to [a person injured by another person's negligence or wrongful acts], . . . as damages on account of such injuries." § 38-27-101, C.R.S. 2014.

         ¶ 7 However, the General Assembly significantly amended the statute, and the amendment became effective on August 5, 2015, before daughter's injury. Ch. 260, sec. 1, § 38-27-101, 2015 Colo. Sess. Laws 981-83. The ...


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