A class action lawsuit was filed against GMH for garnishment of tax refunds of Compact migrants. Because GMH is supposed to be reimbursed by the federal government, the lawsuit says they shouldn’t garnish FAS citizens’ tax refunds as well.
Guam – The plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the Guam Memorial Hospital for garnishment of tax refunds is opposing the hospital’s motion to dismiss the case. Tairin Atesom argues that through Compact-Impact reimbursements, the hospital is essentially collecting twice on her outstanding debt.
Last week GMH sought to dismiss a class action lawsuit that was filed against them by Tairin Atesom. Atesom is a citizen of the Freely Associated States and moved to Guam through the Compact of Free Association.
Atesom claims that GMH unlawfully garnished her tax refunds for several years—unlawful because, under the Compact agreement, GMH is supposed to be reimbursed by the federal government for the costs associated with treating FAS citizens.
The heart of the lawsuit, Atesom says, is that because GMH is reimbursed by the government, GMH essentially collected twice on Atesom’s debt when they garnished her tax refunds. The problem, as Atesom’s lawsuit acknowledges, is that GMH does not always get the full reimbursement they seek.
“This funding may not be enough to cover all of the unpaid medical bills incurred by Compact migrants, but it does at least cover a substantial fraction of those bills; which fractional amount GMHA does not give individual Compact migrant debtors credit for when it garnishes their income tax refunds,” Atesom’s attorney, William Bischoff writes in court papers.
Bischoff even breaks it down into a simpler analogy.
“If you were to have a distant uncle who reimbursed GMHA, say, 50 percent of your hospital bill, (in accordance with a written agreement he had with your family (for which your family had given him due consideration), then you would be an intended third-party beneficiary of that agreement, and GMHA could not thereafter demand of you 100 percent of your bill; it could only come after you for the 50 percent that remained unpaid,” Bischoff says. “This same basic third-party beneficiary contract principle should apply here.”
He further says, “Plaintiff and the proposed class are intended third-party beneficiaries of the Compact Impact reimbursement funds the federal government pays to GMHA.”
In its motion to dismiss, GMH argues that the federal government “has not obligated itself to pay for expenses incurred by individual FSM citizens residing in Guam.”
Bischoff counters that, saying “… then for whom does the federal government reimburse GMHA under the Compact? GMHA offers no alternative explanation to its being individual compact migrants whose cumulative unpaid bills it is that the federal government reimburses GMHA for.”
Atesom is also seeking partial summary judgment in the case because GMH failed to provide due process notice required by law before her tax refund was garnished.
You can read the opposition by clicking on the file below.