A Schaumburg-based medical records technology company, which brought a class action lawsuit against Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown over her office’s allegedly improper collection of filing fees for certain kinds of motions, has asked a judge to either dismiss or at least put a hold on what it called “copy-and-paste” duplicate class actions filed after its initial lawsuit.
Midwest Medical Records Association Inc. had filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court on Nov. 19, 2015, against Brown, and co-defendants Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and Cook County’s government in general.
According to the lawsuit, Brown’s office had improperly collected fees for so-called interlocutory motions – or motions filed by litigants seeking answers to various questions arising while cases are pending in court.
The lawsuit said Brown lacked the authorization under Illinois law to collect those fees, as, MMRA argued, the law only grants the Cook County circuit clerk the authority to charge fees ranging from $50-$90, depending on when the motion is filed, for a “petition to vacate or modify any final judgment or order of the court.”
MMRA said the potential class of plaintiffs could number in the thousands, based on the number of interlocutory motions filed in the circuit on an ongoing basis.
In the weeks that followed, two other plaintiffs, identified as Renx Group LLC and Tomica Premovic, filed similar actions in Cook County court against Brown and her office. Renx filed its action on Dec. 31, 2015, and Premovic followed on Jan. 7, 2016.
The MMRA said thus far, those actions have only served to waste the courts’ time and slow down proceedings in the MMRA lawsuit amid “needless motion practice.”
“Once the dust of the Renx and Premovic complaints is settled, the parties will have accomplished exactly nothing of use,” the MMRA argued. “All parties will remain exactly where they were before the later complaints were filed, except that MMRA and the class will have been delayed in being heard on the merits of their claims.”
The MMRA argued, under court rules and precedent, its case should take precedence, as the MMRA was the first to file its lawsuit. The others, the MMRA said, are merely duplicates, trying to piggyback on the MMRA’s original work.
“Indeed, a comparison of the complaints reveals that the plaintiffs in the Renx and Premovic actions simply cut and pasted the allegations of the MMRA action into their respective complaints,” the MMRA asserted. “In fact, several allegations of the Renx and Premovic actions are verbatim of the MMRA action, including the same formatting and use of emphasis.”
The MMRA’s motion has asked the court to either dismiss or stay the other two actions “to preserve judicial economy.” At a minimum, the MMRA has asked the judge to strip the other lawsuits of their class action status.
“No one can reasonably claim that the Renx and Premovic actions are meaningfully different than the MMRA action,” the MMRA motion said. “And whereas a good parent loves all her children the same, a good judge needn’t feel the same way about her complaints.”
MMRA is represented in the action by the firm of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, of Chicago.
Renx Group is represented by the Zimmerman Law Offices, of Chicago, while Premovic is represented by attorney Larry D. Drury, of Chicago.