Kaiser Illegally Collects Debts, Patient Claims
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser is rarely sued for illegal debt collection, so it continues, claims a patient who was still harassed after filing suit in San Diego County Superior Court.
Farid Mashiri has cancer and owes Kaiser for medical treatments. Kaiser, however, is in the practice of harassing debtors into paying their bills, breaking certain state and federal fair debt collection practices, according to Mashiri's complaint.
Mashiri initially filed suit against Kaiser Collection Consultants of California, but the agency continued its harassing phone calls and letters for payment. Under California law, Mashiri has the right to file a second lawsuit.
"Kaiser knew that plaintiff was represented by an attorney, but continued to communicate with plaintiff in an attempt to collect a debt," the complaint states. Kaiser sent out a written demand for payment on July 23, 2013 and again demanded payment Aug. 24, 2013. These facts occurred after plaintiff's first lawsuit was filed and, therefore, a plaintiff may bring a second lawsuit based on events that occurred after the filing of a complaint in the first lawsuit."
Mashiri says Kaiser is well aware of California's debt collection laws but that it is much more lucrative to face litigation costs than to follow those laws.
Defendants' harassing communications are part of an overall unlawful business pattern and practice whereby they have knowingly, willfully and intentionally enterprised a profitable scheme through illegal collection activity," according to the complaint.
Kaiser is able to get away with it because most people don't realize they have rights, Mashiri says.
"Defendants rarely, if ever, sue over such harassing communications, since very few debtors are aware that their rights are being violated and/or very few attorneys are willing to take on such cases," the complaint states. "As such, defendants are highly motivated to continue their harassing communications since any claims paid out as a result of such wrongful conduct are miniscule when compared to the overall profit generated from such illegal acts."
Mashiri filed the second suit against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practice Act and the California Business and Professions Code. He seeks restitution, civil penalties, statutory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Bashir Ghazialam, of San Diego.