Hearing Set for Louisiana Ambulance Suit Proposed $5.9M Settlement

A hearing on a proposed settlement in the $5.9 million class action lawsuit against Lafayette-based Acadian Ambulance company is scheduled for Friday in Avoyelles Parish.

The Advertiser reports 440 Louisiana residents have filed claims that they were overcharged by Acadian Ambulance for services sometime in the last two decades.

The lawsuit accuses the company of billing and collecting higher fees than called for in its agreement with insurance carriers, attorney Larry Centola said.

The lawsuit alleges that Acadian was providing services to insured customers at an insurance-approved reduced rate for medical emergencies such as heart attacks. However, if a third party was at fault in a car accident, for example, Acadian would bill individual patients in full, not through the insurance company, Centola said.

“What Acadian was doing is that if a person was in a car wreck, the company was not taking the health insurance and instead billing the individual for the third party liability car insurance for a higher amount,” Centola, who represents the plaintiffs, said.

The class action lawsuit involves people who were billed by or paid for services from Acadian between Jan. 1, 1994, and Dec. 31, 2013. The deadline to file a claim is July 24.

The original judgment called for Acadian to pay $17 million, which was reduced when Acadian successfully moved for a new trial.

On Wednesday, Allyson Pharr, Acadian Ambulance senior vice president of legal and governmental affairs, issued a statement to The Daily Advertiser defending its billing practices.

“After more than 10 years of defending itself, Acadian Ambulance has entered into a tentative settlement to end two class action lawsuits pending against it involving claims of overpayments for services,” Pharr said via email. “This very difficult decision was made out of consideration for our employees and the people in the communities in Louisiana we serve.

A fairness hearing is scheduled for Friday in Marksville to hear anyone who objects to the settlement.

According to the legal notice, reimbursement from the $5.9 million settlement is expected to be distributed in August or September.