BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced a settlement on Wednesday with an Eldersburg dentist and her practice for allegedly billing patients improperly for dental services.
Loretta Schueler and Dr. Schueler DDS LLC allegedly billed patients for services that were either covered by insurance or could not be billed under an agreement with the insurance provider. The Integris Group LLC, a company acting on Schueler's behalf, allegedly threatened patients with criminal prosecution if they failed to pay the outstanding debts.
Schueler, her practice and Integris allegedly violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act with their actions.
"Patients were being misled into believing they had to pay more than their deductible or co-pay - and some of them were told they could be criminally prosecuted for bills they did not owe," Gansler said. "This provider's actions crossed the line and consumers deserve to get their money back."
Under the terms of the settlement, Schueler and her practice will pay restitution equal to the total of amounts that were allegedly collected improperly from consumers in the five-year period preceding the settlement. Schueler and her practice will also pay the Consumer Protection Division $10,000 for attorney costs and a penalty of up to $20,000.
Schueler and her practice also agreed they would not demand payment from consumers for any covered dental services, other than payments permitted under consumers' health insurance policies. They also agreed not to attempt to collect consumer debts by threatening criminal prosecution unless the transaction involved a legal violation.
Schueler and her practice denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.