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socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Does a dental lab have the right to hold patient cases from

Resolved Question:

Does a dental lab have the right to hold patient cases from a prescribing dentist who is 90 days past due on his account until payment is recieved?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 7 years ago.

What you are describing is a pure contract issue between the dentist and the lab. There are no specific California health regulations over contractual obligations between a lab and a dentist. The California Civil Code contains many laws concerning general contracts. However, it would require considerition of the contract itself and how it was made to determine whether California or Tennessee law would control contract interpretation.


However, from the patient's standpoint, the matter is not contractual as much as it is tort/malpractice.


If a patient is injured by a dentist's failure to pay his/her bill, then the patient's recourse is to sue for malpractice. A patient's attorney would likely sue the dentist and the lab and then let them each point fingers at each other to try to avoid liability. Meanwhile, the patient's attorney would try to use this as a means of discovering more evidence.


Hope this helps.


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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Are you saying if we did hold cases, it would be the patient who may take legal action against us and at that time we would retain legal assistance. I am confused as to which state, Ca or TN I would be seeking legal advice from. Can you direct me with this?

Expert:  socrateaser replied 7 years ago.

You could certainly be sued by the dentist, but I'm not certain what you would be sued for, being that he hasn't paid the bill, and you are simply requiring payment (unless you agreed in a contract to ship based on some payment plan).


As far as which State law prevails, if your written contract does not epressly state where disputes will be heard, then the contract is generally made in the State where it is accepted.


For example, if the dentist in TN places an order with the CA lab, and the lab accepts the order, then the contract is made in CA, and that State's law controls.


But, it's easy to get it in reverse, because suppose that the dentist places an order for $1,000 worth of X, the lab counters with a price of $1,100, and the dentist accepts. Now the contract is controlled by TN law because that's where it was made.


I'm giving you the academic analysis. There are other jurisdictional issues, such as whether or not you regularly and routinely market your services into the TN jurisdiction. If you do, then even if CA law controlled the contract, you could still be sued in TN.


Until you're sued in a particular court, you won't know for certain which attorney you may need to represent you. But, for now, you can probably get reasonable advise from an attorney in California.



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