Be Careful What You Wish For

We’re all here to get new business. I’ve never met someone who, when faced with a prospect of making more money, and getting more business, said, “Nah. I’m good. Here, contact my competitor. He’s better than me, anyway.”
But sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for.
My firm is known to engage in not only complex commercial litigation and collection of all shapes and sizes, but we do a considerable volume of medical debt collection. One of the most common debt, and one of the easiest to collect, is the debts for where the health care providers render services to the patients, who are indeed insured. However, the insurance carrier and the health care provider do not have any sort of agreement, and as such, is “non-participating.” In these cases, generally the carriers send the checks directly to the patients, and it is incumbent on the patients to forward the amount to the provider, plus any additional amount that the provider billed. When the patient fails to do so, the providers retain us to file suit.
A well-known CLLA member, hereinafter referred to as Mr. Fantastic, who has known my firm for decades, approached our firm with a significant placement of medical provider cases, whom I shall refer to as Dr. Doom, in New York. “Maybe fifty or sixty files, with more every month…” Fantastic said. When I asked what the nature of the debt was, he stated to me that he believed it was non-participating debts, because the dollar amounts were substantially greater than the normal deductible and co-payment range of amounts, and it would be unusual for any small, principal owned and operated health care provider, such as Dr. Doom, to have that many outstanding receivables based on wholly uninsured patients, especially in the relatively affluent area in which Dr. Doom practiced.  I consider that to be a good Fire Storm of placements!
Faced with this influx of cases, we readily accepted, conducted a conflict check, and began sending initial demand letters, on some of the files.
Two days later, we received a telephone call from one of the patient/debtors.
“I am reporting you to the attorney general. This is formal notice.”
Flabbergasted, we inquired as to the reason.
“Dr. Doom is a scumbag who intentionally does unnecessary medical procedures, and sexually assaults his patients.”
Suffice to say, we put a hold on that file, and ceased any further letters.
Over the next few days, we received a colorful assortment of letters, emails, telephone calls, and assorted documents detailing Dr. Doom’s alleged exploits. Everything ranging from Doom’s breach of the Invisible Woman’s privacy, to the unnecessary rhinoplasty performed on Mole Man, to Alicia Masters’s sexual assault criminal complaint filed with the proper authorities against Dr. Doom in Latveria.
We contacted Mr. Fantastic, to let him know about these outlandish claims, and he authorized us to promptly close each and every file.
To this date, we have no idea if there was any validity to the claims against Dr. Doom. But I’m glad it’s not our problem.

Timothy Wan is a partner at Smith Carroad Levy & Wan P.C. in Commack, New York, can be reached at, and try as he might, could not find a way to work The Thing into this Tale.


(Originally published in Commercial Law World Magazine, June 2012)