Ohio Patients Get Another Chance at Challenging Excessive Bills

Air Methods Corporation, an operator of air ambulance helicopters across the country, must return to district court in Cleveland to defend its balance billing of two Ohio accident victims it transported to hospitals for treatment of severe injuries, the Sixth Circuit said Monday. The ruling is a reversal of an earlier decision by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Sometimes referred to as surprise billing, balance billing is a practice where a health care provider bills a patient directly for services an insurer will not cover.

Billy Byler and Donald Reid can continue with a class action seeking a declaratory judgment that there was no enforceable contract between them and Air Methods and that the patients had no obligation to pay Air Methods’ excessive charges.

In 2017, Billy Byler and Donald Reid filed a class-action complaint against Air Methods Corporation alleging excessive fees, unfair competition and breach of contract. According to the filing, Byler and Reid suffered damages from being overcharged. The Sixth Circuit determined that “Plaintiffs in this case face the looming uncertainty of not knowing whether they will be held liable for large sums of money. This is on top of the negative consequences that potentially flow from Air Methods’ out-of-court collection efforts, including the accumulation of interest on the charged amounts. It is in these types of situations, where there is a threat of ongoing harm, that declaratory relief is most appropriate.”

Byler and Reid are represented by Ohio attorneys James M. Kelley, III of Elk & Elk Co. Ltd. and by Robert J. Dubyak and Christina C. Spallina of Dubyak Nelson LLC.