Memorial Hermann Hospital, ex-patient suing each other over bills

June 20, 2013 9:30:06 PM PDT
A former patient is suing Memorial Hermann Hospital for what he calls deceptive trade practices.

The former patient filed a counter claim actually in response what Memorial Hermann Hospital filed against him. He says he thought he was on track to be able to pay a reduced medical bill but then he was served.

"I remember the car running over me and my bones snapping. After that, the lights went out," Ignacio Alaniz said.

It was an accident that changed his life.

"I had nine fractured ribs, two collapsed lungs," he said.

Alaniz was working underneath his stalled car last year when it started and ran over him. He spent a month in Memorial Hermann Hospital undergoing treatment.

"They saved his life, and for that I'm very grateful," his longtime girlfriend, Theresa Malone, said.

And then the bills came, followed by a lawsuit.

"$400,000 -- I didn't know it was going to cost that much," Alaniz said.

While Alaniz was hospitalized, Malone was talking to hospital staff about payment options so he wouldn't have to transfer. Alaniz had a job, but no health insurance.

"She says, 'You know, we've got a charity that can help people in these kinds of situations,'" Malone said.

Malone says she paid $100 to show good faith, applied as a charity case and waited.

"She never returned my calls," Malone said.

Last December, the hospital sued Alaniz to recover the unpaid medical bills. He sued right back.

"We believe they deceived this family into staying there, and that's why we wanted to make the point of countersuing," Alaniz's attorney, Robert Painter, said.

In response, Memorial Hermann told us only, "We can't comment on pending litigation."

"Here you have a patient that owed close to $500,000, they may end up pocketing something because Memorial Hermann started the fight," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said.

Alaniz, who still needs physical therapy, never wanted a fight in the first place.

"I didn't know it was going to cost me the rest of my life just for them saving my life," Alaniz said.

The hospital has not answered the counter claim. Right now, the case is set to go to trial in October.

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