Bennett & Bennett Attorneys at Law

The Biltmore Hotel, Executive Office Center, Suite 360. Coral Gables, Fl 33134

Practice Areas/News and Articles

Consumer Class Actions

For over 25 years, the firm has specialized in bringing class actions on behalf of consumers against banks, insurance companies, real estate developers, local governments and other entities whose practices violate state or federal laws.

Emergency Room Over-charging

Crestview, FL – Bennett & Bennett has filed a class-action lawsuit against North Okaloosa Medical Center (“NOMC”), one of only a few hospitals in Okaloosa County, Florida, for outrageously over-charging victims of automobile accidents for CT Scans performed in its emergency department. This private hospital, owned by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS), charges patients who have been in automobile accidents up to 50 times more than other ER patients for the same scans and up to 718% more than auto accident victims who are treated by other ERs in the same community for the same services. These charges also represent an astonishing 10,000% markup over the hospital’s Medicare- allowable costs for those scans.

George Washington MacNeil, a long-time resident of Okaloosa County, has brought this lawsuit on behalf of himself and other victims of NOMC’s egregious overbilling practices. Last Fall, Mr. MacNeil was involved in an automobile accident, causing him serious injuries. More bad luck befell him after paramedics rushed him to the closest hospital – NOMC. After three hours, and four routine CT Scans, Mr. MacNeil was sent home to recover, only to be shocked weeks later when an invoice from NOMC arrived, charging him over $40,000 for the four scans that were performed. “I was a victim twice over that day. To think a hospital, a place that is supposed to protect and heal you, would take advantage of me and other car accident victims like this is unthinkable,” said Mr. MacNeil.

NOMC performed four CT scans on the Mr. MacNeil at its emergency care department: (i) a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis with contrast for $19,464; (ii) a CT scan of the head and brain without dye for $6,145; (iii) a CT scan of the neck and spine without dye for $6,145; and (iv) a CT scan of the chest/thorax with dye for $9,730.  Following his discharge, Defendant NOMC presented Plaintiff with an invoice for $48,700.  Of this total, $41,484 represented Defendant’s charges solely for the four Challenged CT Scans.

By charging automobile accident victims exorbitant amounts for CT Scans, the hospital has violated the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, which prohibits hospitals from charging such victims unreasonable amounts for medically necessary services. “We are seeking a declaration from the Court that these charges violate the law, and commend Mr. MacNeil for taking a stand on behalf of his friends and neighbors who also were overcharged for CT Scans in the emergency department following a car accident,” said attorney Richard Bennett.

Plaintiff George Washington MacNeil is represented by Bennett & Bennett along with the Social Justice Law Collective, and local counsel Powell, Powell & Powell, of Crestview, Florida. The lawsuit was filed in Okaloosa County Circuit Court and is entitled George Washington MacNeil v. Crestview Hospital Corporation, d/b/a North Okaloosa Medical Center.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) Litigation

The United States Congress enacted the TCPA to protect consumers from unsolicited fax marketing that shifts the cost of advertising to the recipients. The TCPA gives consumers the right to sue the senders of fax ads and imposes penalties of $500/$1500 for each fax advertisement. The law was recently strengthened when the Federal Communications Commission ruled that each fax ad---whether solicited or unsolicited--- must contain an opt out notice providing recipients with specific information on how to stop unwanted advertising. The TCPA also covers text advertising sent without the prior written permission of the recipient. The firm will review fax and text ads for compliance with the law.

Real Estate, Contracts and Commercial Litigation

The firm has long brought class actions against real estate developers for business practices that failed to meet their contractual and regulatory obligations to large numbers of purchasers. In addition, the firm offers individual clients’ representation in commercial litigation, construction and contract disputes, and individual real estate transactions.

Florida Special Assessment Challenges

In recent years local governments have increasing levied flat fee special assessments to pay for a variety of projects or services. The non ad valorem tax may only be imposed if the land assessed is provided a unique benefit and the tax is fairly apportioned among all benefitted properties. Where the special assessment does not meet the legal criteria Florida courts have frequently ordered refunds to be made of the amounts illegally collected. The firm has challenged invalid assessments and will review non ad valorem assessments that may be suspect.

Estate Planning and Probate

Individuals often plan to dispose of their assets to their children, favorite charities, or others stating their wishes in a will that must be probated after their death. Some chose to transfer assets to a Trust that identifies the beneficiaries and successor Trustees. Still others may want to add their beneficiaries to title to personal or real property, bank accounts, etc. in an effort to avoid probate. The firm will consult and discuss the available options to assist you in preparing the best plan.