(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this automobile accident/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
Second, Nishihama violates the California Supreme Court decisions of Hrnjak v. Graymar, Inc. (1971) 4 Cal.3d 725, 729, 734 and Helfend v. So. Calif. Rapid Transit Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 1, 4 which have unequivocally confirmed the application of the collateral source rule in California. To rule otherwise would ignore the historical importance of the collateral source doctrine and the principle of stare decisis. Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455 ( Under doctrine of stare decisis, all tribunals exercising inferior jurisdiction are required to follow decisions of courts exercising superior jurisdiction; decisions of Supreme Court are binding upon and must be followed by all California state courts… Courts exercising inferior jurisdiction must accept the law declared by courts of superior jurisdiction. It is not their function to attempt to overrule decisions of a higher court .).
Third, even defendant’s expert Lee Brown testified that although he intends to testify that the reasonableness of the bills is merely the adjusted amount accepted by the facilities, he has no way of knowing for sure what that amount is. Consequently, there is no basis to limit the introduction of the total amount billed to the Plaintiff.
Fourth, the prejudicial effect of introducing reduced medical bills to the jury would undermine Plaintiff’s claim for personal injury damages. If, for example, the jury is informed that Plaintiff’s medical bills are substantially less than the $278,000 which were charged by his health care providers, that fact may diminish Plaintiff’s general damages claim in the jury’s eyes and reduce his general damages award.
Fifth, defendants — the tortfeasors — would receive a windfall from a collateral source which they had no role in procuring.
And finally, disallowing evidence of the full amount of Plaintiff’s medical bills would place Plaintiff in a worse position than if he did not have insurance – a grossly prejudicial result.
For all of these reasons, defendants’ motion should be denied. The propriety of a Hanif/Nishihama reduction of Plaintiff’s medical expenses award should be considered by the court only after the verdict is rendered. (See Part 3 of 8.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.