(WSVN) - She discovered there was a lien in her name from an unpaid hospital bill. It was slapped on her when she was 13 years old. Even more stunning, she is not the only child who we discovered is being told they have liens from their childhood. What’s going on? 7’s Patrick Fraser reveals it in “Charging the Children?”
COVID hit Duvean hard, and she needed to refinance her house to save it.
Duvean Bouie: “I went through my mortgage company.”
That’s when a hidden secret from her childhood was finally revealed.
Duvean Bouie: “They contacted me and told me that I was denied, and I said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘You have a lien,’ so now I’m thinking, ‘Where is this lien from?'”
The claim of lien document was filed in court under Duvean’s and her mother’s name in 1981, when Duvean was 13 years old.
Duvean Bouie: “This is astonishing.”
It was filed 40 years ago by the Jackson Health Public Trust after her mother didn’t pay a $353 hospital bill.
That wasn’t all Duvean discovered.
Duvean Bouie: “I came up with my brother — he was 9 years old — and they put a lien on him.”
Patrick Fraser: “At 9?”
Duvean Bouie: “At 9.”
A lien still in effect today.
Duvean Bouie: “Hey, I was 13 years old, and I’ve had a lien for 40 years.”
Then we started digging. One child after another in the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s were listed on liens placed by the public trust after their parents didn’t pay a Jackson Hospital bill.
Gail Love: “Absurd, really absurd.”
Liens that their parents were in the dark about.
Gail Love: “Really, I’m confused ’cause this is just all mind-blowing to me. I didn’t know anything about this.”
Gail’s son Antwon was one one year old when the public trust put his name on the lien document.
Gail Love: “But you’re talking about a minor, 1-year-old? How can he pay a bill? He can’t even hold a bottle or walk.”
Is it legal to do this to a child?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No, it is not legal to place a lien on a child, but it is legal for a hospital to file a lien like this to try to collect for unpaid bills. In these cases, even though it appears the child has a lien, they are in reality only listed as an interested party, but you have to actually look at the court documents to realize this, and credit agencies don’t often do this and think it’s a lien against the child.”
Duvean and Antwon say it’s now clear to them, when they applied for a loan or credit card, the lenders saw their name on the lien document and denied them.
Antwon Jennings: “Now that I think about it. Now that I think about it…”
Gail Love: “Paid more, had difficulty achieving credit. I didn’t understand why; I just thought it was the process.”
A lien can destroy your credit. It blocks you from getting bank loans or credit cards or makes you pay higher interest rates.
That thought sent Duvean from surprised to simmering.
Duvean Bouie: “You just don’t know how bad it has hurt us, interest rate, being denied for things that we shouldn’t have been denied for.”
A spokesperson for JMH told us they filed the liens to collect if the patient received money from an insurance company regarding the injuries they were treated for.
She added, “Even though the patient, regardless of their age, may be listed, the lien attaches to an injury case settlement or insurance only. The hospital lien will not affect a patient’s property or credit, and the hospital will not collect from the patient while the settlement is pending. If the case is never settled, the lien automatically goes away after 20 years.”
But Duvean says the lien never went away.
Duvean Bouie: “Everything I applied for, everything that I’ve tried to do in life, you guys made it harder for me. Now you could have made me almost lose my home.”
The Jackson Public Trust released the 40-year-old lien on Duvean, and she was able to refinance and keep her house. We asked them to make sure the lien on Antwon is released as well.
A lien for decades is long enough.
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