James Rice, Atlanta attorney
James Rice, Atlanta attorney (John Disney/Daily Report)

Lawyers on both sides said a “mutual misunderstanding” led to the suit filed last month by Dr. James Chappuis against a client who still owed $200,000 in medical bills after winning a personal injury verdict.

The complaint said Chappuis, founder and CEO of Orthopaedic & Spine Surgery of Atlanta, and his practice were stiffed for more than $200,000 for nearly two years of treatment for Shin Cho, who Chappuis also testified for at trial. He sued Cho as well as his attorneys, James Rice Jr. and Thomas Schaefer.

The suit was filed by Orthopaedic Spine Surgery‘s vice president and general counsel, Richard Merritt, on Aug. 24.

A joint statement provided by Merritt and Rice said Chappuis and his practice “chose to dismiss the lawsuit against all of the defendants. The parties concluded that the issues stemmed from a mutual misunderstanding, and then engaged in a positive and productive dialogue, which resulted in a swift and amicable resolution for all involved. All of Plaintiffs’ allegations against the Defendants have been fully withdrawn.”

The lawyers would not comment further on the short-lived case, in which no defense filings were docketed.

The suit stemmed from a 2015 auto accident in which Cho injured his back. Chappuis’ treatment included back and neck surgery, and he also testified at the May trial in Gwinnett County State Court. A jury awarded $700,000 in damages.

Chappuis’ complaint said that, despite having a “letter of protection” signed by Cho agreeing to pay any outstanding medical bills from the proceeds of the litigation, Cho went to Orthopaedic & Spine Surgery’s main office and “through deliberate pressure and misrepresentation of the facts, convinced a clerical employee to accept $7,500 in satisfaction and payment in full of an alleged $43,871.01, which was erroneous, as the amount due and owing is $205,323.70.”

When Chappuis’ complaint was filed, Rice told the Daily Report that he had written confirmation Cho’s bills were paid, and had consulted with the State Bar of Georgia before disbursing the judgment from his trust account.

Rice said the doctor and his practice had already been paid more than $100,000 by Cho’s insurer, and that Cho “candidly feels that he doesn’t owe them anything.”