Judge rules Idaho Attorney General can intervene in medical debt lawsuit - East Idaho News

Judge rules Idaho Attorney General can intervene in medical debt lawsuit

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IDAHO FALLS – A judge ruled Tuesday that Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador’s office will be allowed to intervene in a lawsuit to argue for the constitutionality of the Idaho Patient Act.

The act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2021, is meant to protect Idahoans from predatory medical debt collection practices.

Magistrate Judge Jason Walker previously ruled parts of the act were unconstitutional in a lawsuit involving Ridgleline Medical and a Bonneville County man named David Lyon, who owed $777 to the Idaho Falls medical clinic. Ridgeline Medical hired Smith Driscoll & Associates to collect the debt owed by Lyon.


Attorney Bryan Smith argued during Tuesday’s Zoom hearing that the Attorney General should not be be allowed to intervene as it would cause a split of authority in the case.

Bryan Smith | Zoom screenshot

“There is no case in the State of Idaho that’s ever interpreted this,” said Smith. “At the end of the day, what we have here is a split of authority, but the State of Idaho has clearly sided with our position in the past.”

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Edward Dindinger, Lyon’s attorney, also opposed involvement from the Attorney General, stating he believed the case should continue to be handled between two parties, rather than three.

EDWARD Dindinger
Edward Dindinger | Zoom screenshot

“I think we can all appreciate that the office of the Attorney General has a natural, understandable and inherent interest in having the power to intervene in the broadest spectrum of cases as possible. That makes sense,” said Dindinger. “But there is value in our system, in allowing private parties to litigate their own disputes without the outside interference of state government.”

Jim Rice represented the Attorney General’s office and said the state has a right to intervene in the case when the constitutionality of an Idaho law is being questioned.

Jim Rice
Jim Rice | Zoom screenshot

“This isn’t a strange interpretation that the Attorney General is asking for. It’s well supported in law,” said Rice. “You’re still having the proceeding from the beginning of the case when initiated to it’s end. The Magistrate court is not limited to only actions that don’t ask it to declare any of the relations of the parties.”

After hearing argument from all sides, Walker granted the motion to have the state intervene in the case.

“It’s not much of a different position than what Mr. Smith and Mr. Dindinger will now have once we revisit some of these issues and have the opportunity to critique the courts previous thought processes on some of these issues,” said Walker. “For those reasons again, I’m going to grant the motion.”

Attorneys will now prepare written briefs ahead of the next hearing which is scheduled for May 5.