Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

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bbwinston
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Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby bbwinston » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:05 pm

Rowe was admitted to the hospital suffering from a critical illness. He was given emergency treatment and later underwent surgery. In at least four occasions, Rowe's two sons discussed with the hospital the payment for served to be rendered by the hospital. The first of these four conversations took place the day after Rowe was admitted. The sons informed the treating physician that their father had no financial means but that they themselves would pay for such services. During the other conversations, the sons authorized whatever treatment their father needed, assuring the hospital that they would pay for the services. After Rowe's discharge, Dr. Peterson brought this action against the sons to recover the unpaid bill for the services rendered to their father. Decision?

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DocHawkeye
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby DocHawkeye » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:24 pm

No. The promise is gratuitous. See Mills v. Wyman

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piccolittle
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby piccolittle » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:33 pm

DocHawkeye wrote:No. The promise is gratuitous. See Mills v. Wyman


I'm not sure about that. In Mills, the promise was made in consideration of a moral obligation based on past services rendered. Here, the sons made an agreement with the hospital to pay their father's bills. Consideration need not benefit the person making the promise, but can flow to a third party. Thus, I would say that the sons' promise to pay for their father's treatment is consideration for the hospital treating their father, and the hospital's treatment of the father is consideration for the promise to pay (bargain and exchange are satisfied here).

Not related to whether the hospital can then pursue the father for payment, but I would say they have a pretty good claim against the sons.

Additionally, on the issue of the treatment rendered before the agreement for payment with the sons was made, see Cotnam v. Wisdom. Emergency services rendered by professionals without bargain from the patient are presumed not to have been rendered gratuitously. They can claim against the father in quasi-contract, and if the sons made a promise to pay for those past services, which then was supported by the further promise by the hospital of more treatment, they could claim in actual contract against the sons.

(Also, assuming he has insurance, they should be able to pay those hospital bills...)

Not sure if that makes much sense; I took my contracts final yesterday and my brain is still feeling weird.

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Extension_Cord
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby Extension_Cord » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:46 pm

piccolittle wrote:
DocHawkeye wrote:No. The promise is gratuitous. See Mills v. Wyman


I'm not sure about that. In Mills, the promise was made in consideration of a moral obligation based on past services rendered. Here, the sons made an agreement with the hospital to pay their father's bills. Consideration need not benefit the person making the promise, but can flow to a third party. Thus, I would say that the sons' promise to pay for their father's treatment is consideration for the hospital treating their father, and the hospital's treatment of the father is consideration for the promise to pay (bargain and exchange are satisfied here).

Not related to whether the hospital can then pursue the father for payment, but I would say they have a pretty good claim against the sons.

Additionally, on the issue of the treatment rendered before the agreement for payment with the sons was made, see Cotnam v. Wisdom. Emergency services rendered by professionals without bargain from the patient are presumed not to have been rendered gratuitously. They can claim against the father in quasi-contract, and if the sons made a promise to pay for those past services, which then was supported by the further promise by the hospital of more treatment, they could claim in actual contract against the sons.

(Also, assuming he has insurance, they should be able to pay those hospital bills...)

Not sure if that makes much sense; I took my contracts final yesterday and my brain is still feeling weird.


I believe thats correct. The hospital can sue the patient for restitution or can sue the sons for reliance damages or under an implied-in-law contract.

The father was a third-party benefitiary, and the doctors were in privity with the sons. SF not applicable because its not a suretyship.

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AreJay711
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:51 pm

Extension_Cord wrote:
piccolittle wrote:
DocHawkeye wrote:No. The promise is gratuitous. See Mills v. Wyman


I'm not sure about that. In Mills, the promise was made in consideration of a moral obligation based on past services rendered. Here, the sons made an agreement with the hospital to pay their father's bills. Consideration need not benefit the person making the promise, but can flow to a third party. Thus, I would say that the sons' promise to pay for their father's treatment is consideration for the hospital treating their father, and the hospital's treatment of the father is consideration for the promise to pay (bargain and exchange are satisfied here).

Not related to whether the hospital can then pursue the father for payment, but I would say they have a pretty good claim against the sons.

Additionally, on the issue of the treatment rendered before the agreement for payment with the sons was made, see Cotnam v. Wisdom. Emergency services rendered by professionals without bargain from the patient are presumed not to have been rendered gratuitously. They can claim against the father in quasi-contract, and if the sons made a promise to pay for those past services, which then was supported by the further promise by the hospital of more treatment, they could claim in actual contract against the sons.

(Also, assuming he has insurance, they should be able to pay those hospital bills...)

Not sure if that makes much sense; I took my contracts final yesterday and my brain is still feeling weird.


I believe thats correct. The hospital can sue the patient for restitution or can sue the sons for reliance damages or under an implied-in-law contract.

The father was a third-party benefitiary, and the doctors were in privity with the sons. SF not applicable because its not a suretyship.


Well that depends what theory of promissory estoppel is used. Under one theory, the reliance acts as consideration so expectancy can be recovered.

Also, there could be consideration since there sons get the benefit of having their father healed. Courts don't look into the adequacy of consideration, just the sufficiency and they clearly bargained for the hospital fixing him.

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DocHawkeye
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby DocHawkeye » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:11 pm

I don't think that any sort of third-party beneficiary arrangement works here because the doctor was not the intended beneficiary of an agreement between the father and son. I do retract my previous statement. I overlook that treatment had not been rendered when the arrangement had been made. The doctor may have a cause of action against the son. See Strong v. Sheffield.

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Extension_Cord
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby Extension_Cord » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:18 pm

DocHawkeye wrote:I don't think that any sort of third-party beneficiary arrangement works here because the doctor was not the intended beneficiary of an agreement between the father and son. I do retract my previous statement. I overlook that treatment had not been rendered when the arrangement had been made. The doctor may have a cause of action against the son. See Strong v. Sheffield.


The hospital isnt the third party benefitiary, the father is. The hospital is in privity with the sons.

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Extension_Cord
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby Extension_Cord » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:25 pm

AreJay711 wrote:
Extension_Cord wrote:
piccolittle wrote:
DocHawkeye wrote:No. The promise is gratuitous. See Mills v. Wyman


I'm not sure about that. In Mills, the promise was made in consideration of a moral obligation based on past services rendered. Here, the sons made an agreement with the hospital to pay their father's bills. Consideration need not benefit the person making the promise, but can flow to a third party. Thus, I would say that the sons' promise to pay for their father's treatment is consideration for the hospital treating their father, and the hospital's treatment of the father is consideration for the promise to pay (bargain and exchange are satisfied here).

Not related to whether the hospital can then pursue the father for payment, but I would say they have a pretty good claim against the sons.

Additionally, on the issue of the treatment rendered before the agreement for payment with the sons was made, see Cotnam v. Wisdom. Emergency services rendered by professionals without bargain from the patient are presumed not to have been rendered gratuitously. They can claim against the father in quasi-contract, and if the sons made a promise to pay for those past services, which then was supported by the further promise by the hospital of more treatment, they could claim in actual contract against the sons.

(Also, assuming he has insurance, they should be able to pay those hospital bills...)

Not sure if that makes much sense; I took my contracts final yesterday and my brain is still feeling weird.


I believe thats correct. The hospital can sue the patient for restitution or can sue the sons for reliance damages or under an implied-in-law contract.

The father was a third-party benefitiary, and the doctors were in privity with the sons. SF not applicable because its not a suretyship.


Well that depends what theory of promissory estoppel is used. Under one theory, the reliance acts as consideration so expectancy can be recovered.

Also, there could be consideration since there sons get the benefit of having their father healed. Courts don't look into the adequacy of consideration, just the sufficiency and they clearly bargained for the hospital fixing him.


I believe the reliance that takes the place of consideration (R 139?) is only used as an exception to the SF. Since this deal doesn't fall under the SF I dont think it can be claimed. Now that I think about it, the hospital couldn't seek reliance damages at all because of the contract they formed with the sons.

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AreJay711
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:29 pm

Extension_Cord wrote:
I believe the reliance that takes the place of consideration (R 139?) is only used as an exception to the SF. Since this deal doesn't fall under the SF I dont think it can be claimed. Now that I think about it, the hospital couldn't seek reliance damages at all because of the contract they formed with the sons.


Assuming the jurisdiction follows the restatement -- and though they would likely you can make the claim that here reliance doesn't really do justice in this issue because medicine has almost no reliance (what would it be? the cost of the cotton gauze and stitching material? Hospital almost certainly didn't lose any volume of business).

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thesealocust
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:30 pm

Argue both sides. YWIA.

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AreJay711
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Re: Can hospital charge the patient who has no financial means?

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:31 pm

thesealocust wrote:Argue both sides. YWIA.

TBF, going over it in this thread is a lot like studying




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