Law Company Files Class Action Lawsuit For Overcharging for Copy of Patient’s Medical Data

A law company is filing a lawsuit against Medical Records Online (MRO), a healthcare release-of-information solution provider, for charging too much on law companies and insurance companies when furnishing electronic copies of patients’ health records.

Cipriani & Werner of Pittsburgh filed the legal action in the Camden, NJ federal court. The legal case is about MRO fees for giving a copy of a patient’s medical records intended for a personal injury case versus the merchant Kohl’s, which the law company represents.

Cipriani & Werner acquired the health records of the plaintiff in the case from John F. Kennedy Medical Center, situated in Edison, NJ. The MRO charged $528 for 518 pages of health records of the plaintiff. The law company incurred a $10 search fee and $1 per page, even if the information was given in electronic format as a PDF.

Cipriani & Werner claims MRO broke the New Jersey Declaratory Judgement Act when it charged illegal fees well above the maximum limit. Other claims made include:

  • a claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act because of unconscionable commercial practices
  • for a violation of New Jersey common law
  • for a breach of contract for violating the implied agreement of good faith and fair dealing

The New Jersey Administrative Code approves a $10 search fee to be billed for giving copies of health information to third parties, a cost of $1 per page, and the exact price of postage and media for storing the records (e.g. a CD). Cipriani & Werner states the cost should have just comprised of a $10 search fee and there should be no per-page charge because the data was not printed.

The lawsuit says that no matter whether MRO was giving copies of just a couple of pages of data or hundreds of pages, the price to MRO of duplicating electronically stored information and transferring them to the consumer took a similar amount of time and effort. Cipriani & Werner stated the whole process took under 5 minutes.

The Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis law company of Cherry Hill, NJ representing MRO says that the charge was altogether legitimate and was consistent with state rules.

The lawsuit makes reference to a 2015 memo from the New Jersey State Department which prohibits medical record providers from billing per-page fees for digitally transmitted copies of health records and for per-page fees to be used when records are delivered to purchasers via computer equipment. Nevertheless, in this instance the state department memo doesn’t apply since the department of Health in New Jersey doesn’t have any authority over MRO and the memorandum didn’t undergo official rule-making procedures in the State of New Jersey.

The class members are mainly lawyers and insurance providers who obtained copies of electronic medical information from MRO from September 2015 to February 2020, who were likewise billed for electronic copies of medical records in civil cases. The lawsuit just names MRO, not any healthcare company that uses MRO for handling requests for copies of health information.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA