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First jury trial scheduled for Medical Recovery Services cases

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IDAHO FALLS — The first jury trial has been scheduled as the battle between Medical Recovery Services and those seeking relief through a legal fund moves forward.

The trial is set to take place Jan. 16, 2020 as attorneys with Idaho Medical Debt, a $1 million fund created by Frank and Belinda VanderSloot, work with their clients against MRS. Currently, 51 cases could go to trial in early 2020.

While that may sound excessive, that number pales in comparison to the number of court cases MRS files. During a 12-month period in 2018 and 2019, court records show MRS filed 2,431 complaints throughout the state, averaging around 47 cases per week. The vast majority of those cases result in a default judgment against debtors.

Sara Thomas, the Administrative Director of Courts for the State of Idaho, tells EastIdahoNews.com that courts in eastern Idaho are prepared for the potential cases beginning next month.

“This is exactly the type of situation that we anticipate comes up from time to time. We have senior judges that we can utilize,” Thomas said. “We’ll have to do some thoughtful planning but absolutely we can make arrangements to do that.”

Senior judges are retired judges who agree to hear cases when needed.

In April, Frank and Belinda VanderSloot announced they were establishing a $500,000 fund called Idaho Medical Debt after EastIdahoNews.com posted a series of reports about Medical Recovery Services.

MRS and its representing law firm, Smith, Driscoll & Associates, are owned by Bryan Smith. Smith employs Bryan Zollinger, a Republican Idaho state representative from District 33. The VanderSloots are fighting what they say are unfair and overly aggressive medical debt collection practices by MRS. Smith maintains the company has done nothing illegal, unethical or wrong.

The VanderSloots announced an additional $500,000 to the fund in October and so far, over 650 people have contacted Idaho Medical Debt for assistance. The law firms of Snell & Wilmer and Beard St. Clair Gaffney were hired by the VanderSloots and have taken on 164 cases against MRS and other medical debt collection companies.

While an official date for the first jury trial has been set, it could be resolved before trial. In October, EastIdahoNews.com reported 31 cases had been resolved based on negotiation between Idaho Medical Debt and MRS. EastIdahoNews.com is working to get an updated number of resolutions.

WATCH THE ORIGINAL INVESTIGATIVE SERIES HERE:

Medical debt nightmare: Why a local woman could end up paying over $5,550 for her $294 doctor’s visit

Man fights 5-year legal battle with debt collection company after doctor’s error

How Medical Recovery Services takes care of business

Medical debt, collections and the fees you’ve likely never heard of

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