DILLARD, P. J., GOBEIL and HODGES, JJ.
Aguila sued Kennestone Hospital, Inc. for fraud, negligent
misrepresentation, and violations of the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act arising from
a hospital lien Kennestone filed following its treatment of
Aguila. See OCGA § 44-14-470 et seq. Kennestone filed a
motion to dismiss Aguila's complaint, arguing, inter
alia, that Aguila failed to demonstrate that Kennestone made
a false statement in its verified statement in support of the
lien.See OCGA § 44-14-471 (a) (2). The
trial court granted Kennestone's motion, and Aguila
appeals. Because we conclude that this case is controlled
adversely to Kennestone by our recent decision in
Clouthier v. The Medical Center of Central Ga., No.
A19A0848, 2019 Ga.App. LEXIS 515 (decided Sept. 20, 2019), we
reverse the trial court's order granting Kennestone's
motion to dismiss. However, we remand this case to permit the
trial court the opportunity to consider Kennestone's
remaining grounds in support of its motion to dismiss.
[a] motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted should not be sustained unless (1) the
allegations of the complaint disclose with certainty that the
claimant would not be entitled to relief under any state of
provable facts asserted in support thereof; and (2) the
movant establishes that the claimant could not possibly
introduce evidence within the framework of the complaint
sufficient to warrant a grant of the relief sought. If,
within the framework of the complaint, evidence may be
introduced which will sustain a grant of the relief sought by
the claimant, the complaint is sufficient and a motion to
dismiss should be denied. In deciding a motion to
dismiss, all pleadings are to be construed most favorably to
the party who filed them, and all doubts regarding such
pleadings must be resolved in the filing party's favor.
(Footnotes omitted; emphasis supplied.) Anderson v.
Flake, 267 Ga. 498, 501 (2) (480 S.E.2d 10) (1997). To
minimum pleading requirements are found in OCGA § 9-11-8
(a) (2) (A), which requires that the complaint contain
"[a] short and plain statement of the claims showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief," and we have
held that the touchstone is fair notice - "this short
and plain statement must include enough detail to afford the
defendant fair notice of the nature of the claim and a fair
opportunity to frame a responsive pleading."
(Citations omitted.) Aetna Workers' Comp Access v.
Coliseum Medical Center, 322 Ga.App. 641, 651 (4) (746
S.E.2d 148) (2013).
viewed, the record reveals that Aguila sustained injuries in
a July 30, 2011 motor vehicle collision. An ambulance
transported Aguila to Kennestone for treatment, where he was
treated in the emergency room, admitted to the hospital, and
subsequently released. At some point, Kennestone learned that
Aguila's injuries were the result of a collision in which
a third party could be liable; as a result, it filed a
hospital lien pursuant to OCGA § 44-14-471 in the amount
of $16, 053.25. Aguila alleged that the lien was "for
the full 'chargemaster' rate or 'sticker
price' which does not represent a reasonable charge for
the treatment [he] received, and . . . Kennestone [knew]
it." Kennestone offered to reduce the lien and,
ultimately, Aguila satisfied the lien for $11, 700.
then filed the present action seeking damages from Kennestone
for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, violations of the
RICO Act, punitive damages, and attorney fees. Aguila averred
that Kennestone accepted the chargemaster rate for only 27%
of its patients and that, as a result, the true value of
Aguila's treatment was $4, 353.25. Kennestone answered
and filed a motion to dismiss, primarily asserting that
Aguila failed to demonstrate that Kennestone made a false
statement in its OCGA § 44-14-471 verified statement in
support of its lien. Following a hearing, the State Court of
Cobb County granted Kennestone's motion, concluding that
Aguila failed to demonstrate that Kennestone made a false
statement when it filed its hospital lien. This appeal
1. In a
single enumeration of error, Aguila argues that the trial
court erred in granting Kennestone's motion to dismiss
because the trial court incorrectly held that Kennestone did
not make a false or misleading statement in its verified
statement in support of its lien. This question is controlled
by our recent decision in the functionally identical case of
Clouthier, 2019 Ga.App. LEXIS 515.
Clouthier, a plaintiff sued his treating hospital
alleging that the hospital's "lien and charges were
for the 'full chargemaster rate' or 'sticker
price' of his medical procedures, 'which [did] not
represent a reasonable charge for the treatment
received.'" (Footnote omitted.) 2019 Ga.App. LEXIS
at *3 - *4. As a result, "Clouthier claimed that [the
hospital] knew that the lien amount was not reasonable"
and asserted causes of action for fraud, negligent
misrepresentation, and RICO Act violations. Id. at
*4. The trial court granted the hospital's motion to
dismiss, and Clouthier appealed.
reversed the trial court's order dismissing the case,
we are at the motion-to-dismiss stage, prior to the
completion of discovery, and we are not considering whether
Clouthier's claims will ultimately prove meritorious or
the likelihood that Clouthier will indeed be able to
introduce evidence to support his claims. "If, within
the framework of the complaint, evidence may be
introduced which will sustain a grant of relief to the
plaintiff, the complaint is sufficient." Thus, "it
is the rare case in which a motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, as opposed to a motion for summary judgment,
will provide an appropriate procedural device for securing
summary adjudication of the issues raised in a complaint .
(Citations omitted; emphasis in original.)
Clouthier, 2019 Ga.App. LEXIS 515 at *2 - *3.
Applying that standard, we concluded that it did not
"appear to a legal certainty that Clouthier would be
entitled to no relief under any state of facts which
could be proved in support of his claims" and that,
therefore, Cloutheir had stated claims for fraud, negligent