Uspenskaya v. MelineAnnotate this Case
Defendant’s vehicle collided into plaintiff’s vehicle at a busy intersection. Plaintiff sustained spinal injuries in the accident and filed suit against defendant. Eventually, plaintiff had surgery to repair a herniated lumbar disc. The jury found defendant negligent and awarded plaintiff a total of $429,773.71 in damages, including $261,773.71 in past medical expenses, which was the full amount of her medical bills. The trial court then entered judgment on the verdict. Defendant appealed. This case raised an issue regarding the calculation of reasonable medical expenses in economic damages awards. Plaintiff lacked medical insurance and contracted with her medical providers to treat her in exchange for a lien on whatever she might recover from defendant in this lawsuit. A third party assignee, MedFin Managers, LLC (MedFin), purchased the lien from the medical providers for a discounted amount. Plaintiff remained liable on the total bill. Defendant contended that the trial court erred in denying her motion to admit evidence of the amounts MedFin paid to purchase the right to recover the full amounts plaintiff’s medical providers billed plaintiff. Defendant argued that the trial court should have allowed her to introduce evidence of the amounts MedFin paid to the medical providers as evidence of the reasonable cost of treatment provided plaintiff, particularly since the court denied defendant’s motion to exclude evidence of the billed amounts. In the published portion of this opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded that because defendant proffered no evidence to show that the MedFin payments represented the reasonable value of plaintiff’s treatment, the probative value of that evidence was substantially outweighed by the probability that it would create a substantial danger of undue prejudice as well as a danger of confusing and misleading the jury. Consequently, the trial court’s ruling precluding evidence of the MedFin payments was not an abuse of discretion.