Cook County Record

Friday, December 13, 2019

Class action: U of Chicago Med Center owes for 'thousands' of debt collection calls to wrong people

By Jonathan Bilyk | Jun 3, 2017

Law money 02

A woman claims the University of Chicago Medical Center called her on her cell phone to collect a debt she didn’t owe, alleging in a new class action lawsuit that the hospital owes her money, as well as potentially thousands of others who received the allegedly improper debt collection robocalls.

On May 26, plaintiff Lena Kotlyar, identified in court documents only as an Illinois resident, filed her putative class action suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the University of Chicago hospital group.

Kotlyar is represented in the action by attorneys Evan M. Meyers, Eugene Y. Turin and William P. Kingston, of McGuire Law P.C., of Chicago.

University of Chicago Medical Center

According to the complaint,  Kotlyar received a call on her mobile phone in April from the University of Chicago Medical Center, asking her to call them back at a phone number listed in the complaint as 844-843-3594. Kotlyar alleged the call was in reference to “an apparent effort to collect on a debt owed by a prior patient.”

“Plaintiff is not now, nor ever has been, a patient of Defendant (University of Chicago Medical Center), nor has she ever had any other relationship with Defendant,” the complaint said.

Kotlyar alleged she then received several more calls over the weeks that followed from the University of Chicago hospital organization, which she alleged were “numerous additional misdirected calls on her cellular telephone … that featured an artificial or prerecorded voice in an apparent effort to collect a debt owed by a delinquent patient of Defendant.”

Kotlyar said the calls came despite her “repeated” attempts to inform the University of Chicago Medical Center “that the phone number that Defendant had been calling did not belong to one of Defendant’s patients and that Defendant did not have permission to call that number.”

“However, Plaintiff’s complaints were repeatedly ignored by Defendant and Defendant’s unauthorized robocalls continued unabated,” the complaint said.

The lawsuit alleges the University of Chicago Medical Center “as an ordinary business practice” collects phone numbers from its patients, partially to use to “collect on unpaid accounts” through calls placed “through a predictive dialer featuring a prerecorded or artificial voice.”

However, the complaint asserts the hospital “spurns procedures necessary to confirm that the telephone numbers to which Defendant places robocalls actually belong to the persons who supposedly provided them,” resulting in improper calls placed to people who were never patients and owe the hospital no debt.

The complaint alleges these calls were placed in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

In her complaint, Kotlyar alleged this has likely happened to “hundreds, if not thousands” of others.

She has asked the court to expand the lawsuit to include many of those others in additional classes of plaintiffs. Specifically, Kotlyar asked the court to agree to create two classes, including everyone in the U.S. who, in the last four years, received misplaced robocalls from the University of Chicago Medical Center, and those who, in the last four years, told the hospital they no longer wished to receive those calls.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the hospital to stop making the calls, and pay the plaintiffs $500-$1,500 for each call wrongly placed, as can be allowed under the TCPA, plus attorney fees.

Cook County Case No. 2017-CH-07571


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Organizations in this Story

University of Chicago MedicineMcGuire Law PC