Bell Nunnally Partner Randall K. Lindley was a featured panelist on a recent episode of the syndicated TV talk show The Doctors discussing medical debt. The episode explored how individuals with medical debt have, at times, faced imprisonment for failure to attend related court hearings.
Lindley succinctly corrected a false notion that the debt itself, or its medical nature, can lead to jail time:
[T]he law does not allow someone to be arrested for failing to pay a debt. There simply is not a debtor’s prison. People are not put in jail for failing to pay a debt. What they do is they get put in jail for failing to obey a court order. Whether it’s a medical debt or some other type of debt, the creditor files a lawsuit to enforce the obligation to pay and the failure of that person to pay that debt results in a judgement…They’re disobeying a court order. That is the trigger for the arresting and the incarceration.
Working closely with creditors as part of his practice, Lindley spoke from years of experience when he added, “What happens is the court goes above and beyond in all the cases I’ve been involved with to make sure that debtors receive notice of these requirements – meaning, they receive notice of the order to appear.”
Lindley clarified for the viewers, “[M]edical debt is not being singled out by the judicial process.”
To watch clips from the full episode, please click here.