Montgomery Ward v. Anderson Case Brief

Summary of Montgomery Ward v. Anderson, S. Ct AR [1998]

Damage: Personal Injuries

Relevant Facts: Appellee, Anderson was badly injured in a fall while shopping at MW in Little Rock. MW personnel sent her to the hospital UAMS, to be treated. She had surgical and other medical expenses totaling $24,512. MW moved to prohibit the introduction of the total amt billed as proof of her medical expenses, and asked that the actual amount billed be introduced. UAMS and Anderson had negotiated a 50% reduction in the medical bill.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the forgiveness of a portion of Anderson’s medical debt is a collateral source payment?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Trial Ct denied Df motion in limine and new trial and excluded evidence of discount medical bill; Affirmed

Law or Rule(s): A trial court must exclude evidence of payments received by the injured party from sources collateral to the wrongdoer, such as private insurance or government benefits.

Court Rationale: The law rationalizes that the claimant should benefit from the collateral source recovery rather than the tortfeasor, since the claimant has usually paid an insurance premium or lost sick leave, whereas the tortfeasor has paid nothing and would end up with a total windfall. There is no evidence that MW had anything to do with the discount. None of the exceptions applied to the facts at hand, there was no testimony by the Pl that invokes any of the exceptions. R2d ss920A(2) ‘it is the tortfeasor’s responsibility to compensate for all harm that he or she causes, not confined to the net loss that the injured party receives.’

Gratuitous or discounted medical services are a collateral source not to be considered in assessing the damages due a personal injury PL. The ct prefers to allow the innocent Pl, instead of the tortfeasor Df, to receive any windfall associated w/ the cause of action.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The collateral source rule prohibits MW from introducing evidence of the discount.

Defendant’s Argument: Gratuitous medical services may not be an item of recovery b/c the policy behind the collateral source rule does not apply where the Pl has incurred no expense or obligation for the services needed.

Exceptions which allow collateral source payments to be introduced: 1) to rebut the Pl’s testimony that he/she was compelled by financial necessity to return to work prematurely or to forego additional financial care; 2) to show that the PL had attributed his condition to some other cause, such as sickness; 3) to impeach the Pl’s testimony that he/she paid his medical expenses himself; 4) to show that the Pl had actually continued to work instead of being out of work, as claimed.

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