Erroneous Can Only Hurt the Consumer

David A. Szwak

Erroneous Can Only Hurt the Consumer

Postby David A. Szwak » Fri Oct 07, 2005 3:09 pm

An erroneous or careless report serves no purpose but to substantially damage the target of the report, who after publication can do little to correct the damage caused by the report. Bartels v. Retail Credit Co., 175 N.W.2d 292 (Neb. 1970).

David A. Szwak

Postby David A. Szwak » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:36 pm

855 A.2d 1150, 2004 ME 111


Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
Roy BICKFORD
v.
ONSLOW MEMORIAL HOSPITAL FOUNDATION, INC.
Docket No. Pen-03-711.
Submitted On Briefs: April 27, 2004.
Decided: Aug. 31, 2004.

Background: Consumer brought action against out-of-state hospital for defamation, tortious interference with economic advantage, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, after hospital refused to correct allegedly false statement it made to credit-reporting agencies that consumer had been "placed in collection" for failing to pay for services. The Superior Court, Penobscot County, Mead, J., dismissed consumer's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction over hospital. Consumer appealed.

Holdings: The Supreme Judicial Court, Saufley, C.J., held that:
(1) state had legitimate interest, for purposes of exercising long-arm jurisdiction, in subject matter of litigation brought by consumer;
(2) hospital had reasonable anticipation of being involved in litigation in state, as required for exercise of long-arm jurisdiction over hospital to comport with due process requirements; and
(3) state's exercise of long-arm jurisdiction over hospital met traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

Judgment of dismissal vacated, and cause remand.

***********

[¶ 15] Maine has a strong interest in protecting its residents from abuses in credit reporting, and the hospital's alleged contact with Maine forms the basis for Bickford's tort claims against the hospital. Although the hospital's contact with Maine has not been voluminous, its action as a creditor failing to correct an erroneous report has allegedly resulted in a substantial impact on a Maine resident. Although it is inconvenient for the hospital to defend a suit in Maine and potential witnesses are out-of-state, it would also be burdensome for Bickford, whose credit has allegedly been compromised, to prosecute an action in North Carolina. The hospital has failed to demonstrate that it offends traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice to hale the hospital into court in Maine.


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