TAMPA –The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently granted several motions by University Community Hospital, doing business as Florida Hospital Carrollwood, in a suit alleging the hospital falsely acted as a debt collector.
In a ruling filed Jan. 7, U.S. Magistrate Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone granted the hospital's motions to dismiss several claims in the lawsuit filed by Ben Smith after the hospital group placed a lien after he failed to pay a bill. Smith alleged in his suit that the hospital violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act (FCCPA) and improperly disclosed the lien to third parties.
In the ruling, Arnold said Smith "failed to plead facts showing he is plausibly entitled to relief." However, the ruling also gave Smith until Jan. 31 to file an amended complaint regarding claims that the hospital disclosed the lien to third parties.
Attorneys for the hospital argued that neither records filed in Hillsborough County’s nor a notification letter sent to Smith constitute debt collection under the FDCPA or FCCPA.
The ruling said, Smith "failed to allege a plausible claim for relief because he failed to show Community Hospital is a debt collector. Further, Community Hospital’s actions, as a matter of law, were not connected or related to debt collection."
Arnold said attorneys for Smith also failed to show Community Hospital’s actions are prohibited.
However, Arnold said although Smith "failed to allege a plausible claim for relief, he pleaded enough facts to show a plausible claim for relief."