A San Diego man is pursuing two lawsuits against healthcare giant Kaiser, claiming that his first suit alleging harassment and violation of state debt collection law wasn't enough to keep the organization's collectors at bay.
In February 2013, Farid Mashiri filed a complaint in Superior Court demanding that Kaiser stop harassing him over $17,282 in charges related to cancer treatment he received, arguing that his state-sponsored MediCal insurance should cover his costs. After repeatedly providing Kaiser with his MediCal paperwork, Mashiri says his collection account was sold to co-defendant Collection Consultants of California, which then demanded he pay an amount that had swelled to $19,680.
Mashiri became eligible for MediCal coverage in 2009 after losing his job and says he has since become permanently disabled and unable to provide for his own personal care as a result of his cancer battle.
Even after the suit was filed, however, the contacts kept coming in.
"Kaiser knew that Plaintiff was represented by an attorney, but continued to communicate with Plaintiff in an attempt to collect a debt. Kaiser sent out a written demand for payment on July 23, 2013, and again a demand for payment on August 24, 2013. These facts occurred after Plaintiff’s first lawsuit was filed, and therefore, a Plaintiff may bring a second lawsuit based on events that occurred after the filing of a complaint in the first lawsuit," explains the new complaint, filed in late July.
Mashiri alleges that the defendants "knew each of their harassing communications were willful and knowing" violations of debt-collection laws, and that they continue to break these laws because they "are rarely, if ever, sued over such harassing communications, since very few debtors are aware that their rights are being violated…. As such, Defendants are highly motivated to continue their harassing communications since any claims paid out as a result of such wrongful conduct are minuscule when compared to the overall profit generated from such illegal acts."
The plaintiff seeks restitution payments, plus civil penalties, statutory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.