SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT,
PARISH OF RAPIDES
issue is whether, in a tort case against a third party
tortfeasor, the lower courts erred in prohibiting a plaintiff
from introducing the full amount of medical expenses billed
and allowing only evidence of the amount actually paid by the
employer through workers' compensation. We granted this
writ application to determine the applicability of the
collateral source rule to the instant facts. For the reasons
that follow, we conclude the amount of medical expenses
charged above the amount actually incurred is not a
collateral source and its exclusion from the purview of the
jury was proper.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Simmons, ("Plaintiff"), was employed by Cintas
Corporation No. 2, ("Cintas"), at its warehouse in
Pineville, Louisiana. Plaintiff was working in the course and
scope of his employment when he was injured on October 12,
2011, while attempting to close a roll-up rear bay door that
had become jammed. Plaintiff received workers'
compensation benefits from Cintas, including disability and
medical expenses. The medical bills charged by
Plaintiff's healthcare providers totaled $24, 435; this
amount was reduced to $18, 435 in accordance with the
Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act Medical Reimbursement
Schedule. Thus, there is a "written off" amount of
$6, 000 at issue.
Plaintiff filed suit against Cornerstone and its insurer
("Defendants"), as the owner of the builder.
Plaintiff alleged the warehouse's rear bay door was
defective, and that, but for this unreasonably dangerous
defect his accident would not have occurred. Cintas and its
workers' compensation carrier intervened, asserting its
right to reimbursement. Plaintiff settled with Cintas,
waiving his claims for additional workers' compensation
benefits in consideration of Cintas waiving its intervention
claim for reimbursement. Thereafter, Defendants filed a
motion in limine seeking to exclude evidence of the amount of
medical expenses "written off" due to workers'
compensation payments and include, as evidence, only the
medical expenses that were actually paid by workers'
compensation. Plaintiff filed a competing motion in limine
seeking to have the entire amount in medical bills admitted
into evidence as a collateral source.
trial court granted Defendants' motion. Specifically, it
prohibited evidence of the amount of medical expenses
"written off" due to workers' compensation
payments and found that the only evidence of medical expenses
to go to the jury would be the amount paid by workers'
compensation. The trial court also denied Plaintiff's
motion in limine. The Court of Appeal, Third Circuit, denied
the writ in a 2-1 decision. The dissent found that the
application of the collateral source rule furthers the policy
goal of tort deterrence and the trial court abused its
discretion in granting Defendants' motion in limine.
Plaintiff then applied to this court. We granted the writ
application to determine the applicability of the collateral
source rule to medical expenses "written off"
pursuant to the Workers' Compensation reduced fee
schedule. Simmons v. Cornerstone Investments, LLC,
18-735 (La. 9/21/18), 252 So.3d 491.
begin our analysis with a review of the development of the
collateral source rule. In Louisiana Dept. of Transp.
& Dev. v. Kansas City Southern Railway Co.,
02-2349, p. 6 (La. 5/20/03), 846 So.2d 734, 739, this court
Under the collateral source rule, 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. Under this well-established doctrine, the
payments received from the independent source are not
deducted from the award the aggrieved party would otherwise
receive from the wrongdoer.
in Bozeman v. State, 03-1016 (La. 7/2/04), 879 So.2d
692, this court considered whether the collateral source rule
applied to medical expenses which were "written
off" under the Medicaid program. In analyzing this
issue, this court noted that the plaintiff paid no
consideration for the "written off" amount. The
[W]here the plaintiff pays no enrollment fee, has no wages
deducted, and otherwise provides no consideration for the
collateral source benefits he receives, we hold that the
plaintiff is unable to recover the "write-off"
amount. This position is consistent with the often-cited
statement in Gordon v. Forsyth County Hospital Authority,
Inc., 409 F.Supp. 708 (M.D. N.C. 1975), affirmed in
part and vacated in part, 544 F.2d 748 (4th Cir. 1976),
that "(i)t would be unconscionable to permit the
taxpayers to bear the expense of providing free
medical care to a person and then allow that person
to recover damages for medical expenses from a tortfeasor and
pocket the windfall." (Emphasis by the court).
After careful review, we conclude that Medicaid is a free
medical service, and that no consideration is given by a
patient to obtain Medicaid benefits. His patrimony is not
diminished, and therefore, a plaintiff who is a Medicaid
recipient is unable to recover the "write off"
amounts. [Boldfacing in original].
Bellard v. Amer. Cent. Ins. Co., 07-1335, (La.
4/18/08), 980 So.2d 654, this court was tasked with deciding
whether an employer's uninsured motorist carrier was
entitled to a credit in the amount of workers'
compensation payments paid to or on behalf of the plaintiff.
In making the determination, we again focused on whether the
plaintiff's patrimony was diminished, stating:
After Bozeman, two primary considerations guide our
determination with respect to the collateral source rule. The
first consideration is whether application of the rule will
further the major policy goal of tort deterrence. The second
consideration 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. An analysis of these two
considerations in the instant case leads to the conclusion
that the collateral source rule does not apply under the
Id. at 669. In Cutsinger v. Redfern,
08-2607 (La. 5/22/09), 12 So.3d 945, this court found the
collateral source rule did not apply to prevent the
plaintiff's uninsured motorist carrier from receiving a
credit for workers' compensation benefits paid by her
employer, even though the plaintiff paid for the UM coverage
herself. In so ruling, this court relied on a finding of
solidary liability between the UM carrier and the
workers' compensation insurer and a secondary finding
that the workers' compensation benefits were not paid for
with consideration by the plaintiff and, ...