The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has declined to certify a statewide class of patients or their representatives who alleged they were systematically overcharged copying fees for patient medical records in violation of New York state laws. The complaint, Ruzhinskaya v. Healthport Technologies, LLC, No. 14 Civ. 2921 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 9, 2015), asserts that the defendant copying service overcharged patients by assessing a 75 cent per page fee for copying, regardless of the actual costs of providing the service. Pursuant to New York Public Health Law, healthcare providers may charge only the provider's "costs incurred" for providing patients copies of their medical records, up to a maximum of 75 cents per page.
In declining certification, the court held that "because there are significant variations among healthcare providers in New York with regard to the cost of retrieving, copying, and distributing medical records," a determination of the "costs incurred" is "incapable of common resolution on a statewide basis." In this instance, the class, which included patients who requested medical records from more than 500 different providers, was simply too broad. The court noted, however, that a more narrowly defined class -- such as one limited to patients who sought records from the same healthcare provider -- might satisfy Rule 23's requirements. The Healthport decision highlights the increasing scrutiny plaintiffs' proposed classes face at the certification stage.