DAMAGES: Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics, LLP.* (California Supreme Court, S249399)
CMA, along with other amici, filed a letter requesting depublication of the Court of Appeal opinion in this case involving the calculation of damages in a medical malpractice case. The Court of Appeal determined that insured plaintiffs who elect to receive treatment from providers outside of their insurance network should be permitted to introduce evidence of the amounts billed for their injury-related medical care, contrary to the California Supreme Court's decision in Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. case in 2011.
In Howell, the Court held that to demonstrate medical expenses, a plaintiff's recovery of damages for past medical expenses was limited to the actual incurred amounts that are reasonable under the circumstance rather than the amounts billed. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Howell, some attorneys have touted how plaintiffs can circumvent the ruling and increase recoverable damages by encouraging plaintiffs to eschew medical care covered by insurance in favor of higher-priced lien care. CMA's letter urged depublication of the Court of Appeal opinion in Pebley to discourage litigation tactics that invite litigants to seek medical care provided outside of insurance networks for the express purpose of increasing their damages. On August 8, 2018, the California Supreme Court denied the request for depublication and declined to review the case.