DUSTIN B. PATTERSON Plaintiff-Appellant
STATE FARM MUTUAL Defendants-Appellees
from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 580, 986 Honorable Michael
A. Pitman, Judge
MORRIS, DEWETT & SAVOIE, LLC By: B. Trey Morris Justin C.
Dewett Meagan E. Shadinger Counsel for Appellant.
IRION, SALLEY, CARLISLE & GARDNER, APLC By: Ronald E.
Raney Counsel for Appellee, ANPAC Louisiana Insurance
BROWN, STONE, and DREW (Ad Hoc), JJ.
Dustin B. Patterson, filed suit against defendants, State
Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, ANPAC Louisiana
Insurance Company, CLOCO, LLC, and Todd Cloinger, seeking
damages for injuries he sustained in an automobile accident
that occurred on June 23, 2014. Prior to trial, Patterson
settled his claims against Cloinger (the driver of the other
vehicle), State Farm (Cloinger's liability insurer), and
CLOCO (the owner of the vehicle driven by Cloinger) for $50,
000. Additionally, ANPAC (Patterson's UM insurer)
tendered to Patterson UM benefits in the amount of $60, 000.
case proceeded to a jury trial against ANPAC. The jury
attributed 100% of the fault for the accident to Cloinger,
found that Patterson suffered damages as a result of the
collision, and awarded him $13, 632.63 in past medical
expenses; $5, 000 in future medical expenses; and $5, 000 for
his pain and suffering, for a total award of $23, 632.63. On
November 28, 2016, the trial court rendered a final judgment
in accordance with the jury's verdict and, inter
alia, "ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that in
applying the stipulations in this matter, no further money is
owed by defendant, ANPAC LOUISIANA INSURANCE COMPANY, to
plaintiff, DUSTIN PATTERSON." Plaintiff has appealed,
urging that the trial court erred in granting defendant's
motion in limine which limited evidence of
Patterson's past and future medical expenses to the
contractually discounted rates paid by his insurer and thus
denied him the opportunity to recover the full benefit of the
"write off" amounts.
filed a motion in limine seeking to limit Patterson from
presenting to the jury evidence of any medical expenses in
excess of the contracted rate paid by his health insurer.
This motion was opposed by plaintiff. The trial court granted
ANPAC's motion on May 23, 2016. Jury trial was held July 25
- 27, 2016. On the first day of trial, the parties put
several stipulations on the record, including that the $110,
000 received by Patterson pretrial would be credited against
any judgment entered against ANPAC. Also stipulated to by the
attorneys was the amount of past medical expenses potentially
recoverable by plaintiff as limited by the trial court's
evidentiary ruling. Patterson's counsel re-urged his
objection to the trial court's evidentiary ruling for the
record. In accordance with its pretrial ruling, the trial
court only allowed plaintiff to introduce the contractually
discounted amounts (which totaled $13, 632.63) paid by his
health insurer to medical providers as evidence of
plaintiff's past medical expenses.
trial court cited the recent supreme court case of
Hoffman v. 21st Century North American Insurance
Co., 14-2279 (La. 10/02/15), 209 So.3d 702, and noted
that plaintiff did not have the obligation to pay the
"write-off" amounts under the Balance Billing Act
in support of its ruling. Health Care Consumer Billing
Disclosure Protection Act, also known as the "Balance
Billing Act", La. R.S. 22:1871, et seq.
Patterson was the victim of a car wreck caused by a
tortfeasor found by the jury to be 100% at fault. Plaintiff
sought medical attention for his injuries, and his medical
providers were paid by his health insurer, Blue Cross, which
was entitled to a discount as a result of collective
bargaining. All of plaintiff's medical providers accepted
the discounted amount ($13, 632.63) rather than the customary
charge for patients with no health insurance ($63, 072.88),
which means these providers "wrote off" $49,
440.25, the difference between their customary charges and
the discounted amounts they accepted from Blue Cross.
According to Patterson, the trial court's ruling was
legally erroneous because it failed to allow him, the tort
victim, to realize the "benefit of the bargain" and
recover the write-off amount of $49, 440.25, considering the
reduction in his patrimony that occurred when he paid health
insurance premiums to Blue Cross for his medical insurance.
We agree with Patterson's argument.
collateral source rule is a rule of evidence and damages that
provides that a tortfeasor may not benefit, and an injured
plaintiff's tort recovery may not be reduced, because of
monies received by the plaintiff from sources independent of
the tortfeasor's procuration or contribution. Bozeman
v. State, 03-1016 (La. 07/02/04), 879 So.2d 692;
Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development v.
Kansas City Southern Ry. Co., 02-2349 (La. 05/20/03),
846 So.2d 734. The payments received from the independent
source are not deducted from the award the aggrieved party
would otherwise receive from the wrongdoer, and a
tortfeasor's liability to an injured plaintiff should be
the same, regardless of whether or not the plaintiff had the
foresight to obtain insurance. Id. at 739-40. As a
result of the collateral source rule, the tortfeasor is not
able to benefit from the victim's foresight in purchasing
insurance and other benefits. Hoffman, 209 So.3d at
704; Bozeman, supra at 698; Suhor v.
Lagasse, 00-1628 (La.App. 4 Cir. 09/13/00), 770 So.2d
422, 423. The major policy reason for applying the collateral
source rule to damages has been, and continues to be, tort
deterrence. Bozeman, 879 So.2d at 700. However, the
supreme court in Hoffman, supra at 706,
observed that "in both Bozeman and
Bellard, we emphasized a fundamental consideration
for application of the collateral source rule, in addition to
tort deterrence, is 'whether the victim, by having a
collateral source available as a source of recovery, either
paid for such benefit or suffered some diminution in his or
her patrimony because of the availability of the benefit,
such that no actual windfall or double recovery would result
from application of the rule.'"
evidentiary perspective, the collateral source rule bars the
introduction of evidence that a plaintiff has received
benefits or payments from a collateral source independent of
the tortfeasor's procuration or contribution.
Bozeman, supra. As in the instant case, the issue
typically arises at trial in the form of a motion in limine.
Id. See also Terrell v. Nanda, 33, 242 (La.App. 2
Cir. 05/10/00), 759 So.2d 1026; Suhor, supra.
trial court is granted broad discretion in its evidentiary
rulings which are not to be disturbed on appeal absent a
clear abuse of discretion. Ryan v. Case New Holland,
Inc., 51, 062 (La.App. 2 Cir. 12/22/16), 211 So.3d 611;
Allums v. Parish of Lincoln, 44, 304 (La.App. 2 Cir.
06/10/09), 15 So.3d 1117, writ denied, 09-1938 (La.
11/20/09), 25 So.3d 803. A motion in limine presents
an evidentiary matter that is subject to the great discretion
of the trial court. Heller v. Nobel Insurance Group,
00-0261 (La. 02/02/00), 753 So.2d 841; Ryan, supra;