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Hospital Wins Rs 1 crore Defamation Lawsuit against Patient who left without paying bill


Hospital Wins Rs 1 crore Defamation Lawsuit against Patient who left without paying bill

New Delhi: In a first of its kind decision, a pune court has directed a patient, who had left the hospital without paying the complete hospital bill, to pay the entire remaining sum while also directing him to pay Rs 1 Crore with interest as damages to the hospital for all the defamation that was caused by him afterwards

The case was filed by Aditya Birla Hospital in Pune in the year 2013 after encountering a patient who left the hospital without paying the bill and consequently, articles were published in the newspaper with respect to the hospital which were allegedly defamatory in nature.

The hospital informed the court that  On 04/01/2013 at about 6.10 am the said patient, was brought in the hospital by his own vehicle with a complaint of retrosternal chest pain, left arm pain and back pain with profuse sweating. He was immediately taken to cardiac section in the emergency department and he was examined by Dr Tapsale. Thereafter, Dr Kalia examined him and performed 2D Echo cardiography, on that report defendant was admitted in the hospital. The doctors had discussed with patient’s friend, relatives and decided to have Coronary angiography Sos Coronary Angioplasty.

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Accordingly, a friend of defendant accompanied the defendant and had signed document for consent and the defendant was shifted to Cathlab for Angiography. In the Angiography report, it was found there was 100% occluded proximal LAD artery and 50% stenosis of LCX artery. After going through angioplasty report wife of the defendant and his friend were informed that angioplasty is required to be done. The wife of defendant agreed to carry out angioplasty and it was carried out on the 04/01/2013 at 12.30 pm. The defendant was given all the medical attention in an emergency with the belief and faith that he will make the payment i.e. hospital charges, doctors charges and other charges including that the stent. The patient deposited a sum of Rs.40,000/.
On 08/01/2013 the defendant was required to be discharged on payment of an outstanding bill of Rs.4,29,794.91/.
After complete recovery and on receipt of bill the defendant started disputing bill as well as treatment. The patient along with other 25 persons without taking proper clinical discharge left the hospital without paying the bill.

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The hospital further alleged that the defendant circulated defamatory contents in newspaper. The reputation of Directors of plaintiff hospital was also damaged in their personal capacity and required to answer various clients. Due to the said act of the defendant, they not only suffered mental agony but harm has been caused to their reputation. Therefore, the plaintiff hospital is entitled for damages to the extent of Rs.1,00,00,000/.

On 31/01/2013 the hospital issued a notice through its advocate to which the defendant replied but, failed to repay the treatment charges. Hence, this suit. The defendant in spite of service of suit summons failed to appear hence, the suit proceeded exparte against him

The court went through all the documents related to the case, including the medical reports, the bills, the media reports, the doctor’s submissions, the consents as well as the financial consents that were signed in the matter. The court analysed the case based on the following questions

  1. Whether the Amount of Treatment is due to the hospital ?

The court took into record to testimonies of various witnesses, doctors, and all records and noted

…..the documents filed on record clearly reveals that the doctors of plaintiff has performed operation and the defendant without paying the entire treatment charges left the hospital. Therefore, considering the unchallenged testimonies of witnesses and documents placed on record I hold that the plaintiff proved that an amount of Rs.3,89,795/is due and outstanding against the defendant……

2. Whether the hospital was entitled to the damages claimed?

The court held that the defendant was treated for cardiac ailment but instead of payment of treatment charges had circulated defamatory contents in newspaper. The court further held that the act of defendant not only cause mental agony but also harm the reputation of plaintiff hospital in the public at large.

“Therefore, the plaintiff is entitled for damages against the defendant to the extent of Rs.1,00,00,000/,” it stated

The perusal of documents especially the police complaint filed by the plaintiff and articles published in the newspaper with respect to the plaintiff hospital I hold that the articles published in different newspapers are defamatory per se. These articles undisputedly caused mental agony and harm to the reputation of plaintiff and its office bearers. It is an admitted fact that the plaintiff hospital is a reputed hospital all over the India as well as International. If really, the defendant had any grievance about medical treatment or medical bill charged then he has many recourses available to purforth his grievance and prayed for justice, but he failed to do so. Moreover, instead of choosing a legal way the defendant became self-proclaimed judge and passed judgment against the plaintiff hospital by defaming it.

As mentioned above, the plaintiff hospital has reputation in the society of large and a defamation without any formal proof will definitely harm its reputation and will also cause mental agony to its Directors and all other staff members who are providing services for a good cause. Therefore, considering the above mentioned reasons and documents placed on record, I hold that the defendant is liable to pay  damages of Rs.1,00,00,000/to the plaintiff towards defamation, damage to reputation of plaintiff hospital and causing harassment and mental agony to its office bearers. Therefore, considering the unchallenged testimonies of plaintiff’s witnesses and documents placed on record I hold that the plaintiff is entitled for damages of Rs.1,00,00,000/from the defendant.

The court further upheld that the hospital was entitled to interest on the above damages. The court then directed the patient to pay Rs.1,03,89,795 along with an interest at the rate 18% p.a. on the said amount from the date of filing of suit till its realization.

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18 comment(s) on Hospital Wins Rs 1 crore Defamation Lawsuit against Patient who left without paying bill

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  1. user
    Parameswaran P N October 22, 2019, 9:41 pm

    Identity of the patient should be disclosed to enable other hospitals to be on guard.

  2. user
    Dr Prabhat Kumar Patra October 22, 2019, 4:20 pm

    Good judgement and helpful for all health unit

  3. Good judgement,the media should also be punished for bringing dis- repute to the hospital.The media without verifying the truth has published the defaming articles to gain popularity,so in my opinion Media should be made responsible to pay part of the damage..

  4. I agree… Yes… The media should b taken care f… who defames hospitals n doctors n causing all the mental agony to the same.. Without any genuine reasons to b blamed for…
    V doctors shld show our unity in holding our professional righteousness..

  5. @Deepak Sengupta
    1. Can you come up with fixed rate for your life when it is affected by particular disease? If yes then
    2. Just Pay 10% of the value of your life for that particular disease for that one event. If treatment didn\’t succeed to save your life, doctors will pay back the whole value of your life back to your kins.
    Agree?

  6. This short of case will continue to upset the conscience of right thinking citizens of our country till a government which governs honestly and sensibly is available. Why an independent country like ours with no dearth of brilliant brains form an expert committee to fix cost to be charged by private organisations ,for a particular procedure ? Why the rates fixed by C.G.H.S. be made the norm for private corporate Hospitals as well ?

  7. can u fix the fee of the lawyer. how can u fix the fees . govt can fix formaterials and drugs.

  8. user
    Dr Parveen Kumar Gupta October 19, 2019, 11:23 pm

    CGHS rates are actually meant for government hospitals where no CGHS person wants to go. The treatment and conditions in 7 star hospitals are of 7 star rates. It is the mistake of the people who are middle or lowers middle class or without medical insurance who go to these 7 star hospitals. Every hospital is not meant for poor people like Ferrari are not meant for poor people. So one should go to a Hospital which his pocket allows instead of blaming the Hospitals.