A married couple from Androscoggin County are suing Central Maine Medical Center and a Lewiston-based debt collection service for civil contempt, saying the defendants have continued to demand $2,700 for unpaid hospital bills that the couple no longer owe because of a bankruptcy court judgment in 2015.

According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine by Turner residents Michael and Sarah Turner, CMMC and its debt collector, Advanced Collection Services Ltd., have ignored a court order issued in May 2015 that relieved the Turners of their obligation to repay certain pre-bankruptcy debts, including the three unpaid hospital bills.

The Turners are seeking punitive damages against CMMC and Advanced, as well as court costs and attorney’s fees.

They filed for protection from their creditors under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in February 2015. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling off all nonessential assets to repay certain high-priority creditors, known as secured creditors. The remaining creditors, known as unsecured creditors, often receive little or nothing from the sale proceeds.

In the bankruptcy filing, the couple listed total assets valued at $134,757 and total liabilities of $266,793. Their liabilities included a $135,000 home mortgage and $131,783 in other debts such as unsecured loans, credit cards and various bills including the three CMMC bills. The only secured creditor in the bankruptcy was Mechanics Savings Bank, the couple’s mortgage lender.

In a complaint filed June 8 in bankruptcy court, the couple allege that Advanced, working on behalf of CMMC, was notified of the bankruptcy court ruling but continued to call and send letters to the Turners demanding payment.


“(Advanced) made numerous telephone calls to the Plaintiffs for the purpose of collecting CMMC’s discharged claim,” the complaint says. “Of these the Plaintiffs answered at least three and each time stated that they had filed their Chapter 7 case and provided the caller with the name of their counsel.”

But the calls and letters did not stop, according to the complaint.

CMMC and Advanced declined to answer questions about the lawsuit but provided the Portland Press Herald with a brief, joint statement.

“Central Maine Medical Center and Advanced Collection Services are still reviewing the facts and relevant information relating to this legal filing,” it said. “We will respond to the complaint accordingly.”

The Turners did not respond to a request for comment conveyed through their attorney, James Maguire of Portland.

In general, debt collection services are not very popular with consumers. They are often regarded as overly aggressive, and they engage in practices that many consumers equate to harassment. They also have the ability to damage consumers’ credit scores.

Advanced has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau with three negative customer reviews and no positive reviews. Two customer complaints against the company have been lodged with the bureau in the past three years. Advanced did not respond to either complaint.


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