Court rules against medical center in burden of proof case

By Carrie Bradon | Jun 4, 2019

HOUSTON — A medical center has lost its bid motion to dismiss a case against a patient that it alleged had failed to meet her burden to prove.

The Texas Court of Appeals First District concluded that the trial court did not err and overruled the motion to dismiss by North Cypress Medical Center Operating Company GP LLC, against defendant Angeline Norvill. The plaintiff also filed a motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act. The had defendant filed a response to the motion, alleging TCPA was inapplicable and that Norvill had failed to meet hers burden. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without specifying the basis for the decision.

The case was heard by Justice Russell Lloyd.

North Cypress Medical Center filed an appeal in the First District against Norvil, alleging the trial court erred in denying a motion to dismiss pursuant to the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), alleging that it, the plaintiff, met the burden to prove while the defendant did not provide a commercial speech exemption or her burden to bring forth evidence.

The defendant, Norvill, was injured when she fell at a Kroger on June 20, 2014. Court documents state Norvill was transported to North Cypress Medical Center emergency room and was treated for injuries. The defendant, allegedly, did not have health insurance and signed an agreement to pay for all of her treatments. 

On July 7, 2014, according to the complaint, North Cypress filed a hospital lien and a demand for payment for $5,028.50, which was the full, unpaid amount owed Norvill. The defendant allegedly informed the plaintiff March 14, 2017 that she was in the process of settling her claim with Kroger’s and asked to lower the hospital bill by 50%. 

North Cypress requested more information before looking into a reduction. Norvill said it was necessary for the plaintiff to reduce the bill, alleging the hospital had overcharged her. The plaintiff denied the reduction and demanded full payment twice more. The plaintiff threatened to sue the defendant if she did not pay. 

Norvil filed a petition for declaratory judgment, alleging North Cypress' charges were in excess of a reasonable and regular rate for medical services while the plaintiff made counterclaims against the defendant for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion. 

Texas Court of Appeals First District case number 01-18-00582-CV

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