Health Law Practice Group Update: Attorneys Win Motion to Limit Plaintiffs’ Economic Damages

Attorneys Crystal Deese and Pam Diedrich recently won a Motion to Limit Plaintiffs’ Economic Damages. Plaintiffs sought to recover the entire amounts of their medical bills rather than the far lower figure the hospital received in payment. Judge José M. López in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ruled that Plaintiffs can only claim the amounts actually paid by Medicaid.

Plaintiffs argued the collateral source doctrine allowed them to claim the total amounts billed by the health care providers, regardless of what Medicaid actually paid. At oral argument, the defense cited opinions from several other Superior Court judges who agreed that the collateral source rule does not apply to amounts written off of the bills and Plaintiffs can still recover the amounts the hospital received in payment. Medicaid paid only 35% of the total charges. Judge López’s ruling reduced the hospital’s exposure by 65%, an amount in excess of $1.6 million.

There is no D.C. appellate ruling precisely addressing this issue. Judges on the Superior Court have ruled both ways. Judge López previously ruled against defendants in another case on a similar issue. This is a tremendous win for this client and the greater defense bar.