Stokes v. Muschinske (2019)
April 17, 2019
Horvitz & Levy obtained the affirmance of a judgment in a hotly disputed personal injury action and successfully asked the Court of Appeal to publish its decision which will be favorable to defendants disputing the reasonable value of medical services at trial.
Plaintiff James Stokes was injured in an automobile accident and sued defendant Martin Muschinske. The defendant stipulated to liability but disputed causation and damages. After a contested trial, in which Stokes’ counsel requested that the jury award $27.5 million in damages, the jury awarded just $610,000. Plaintiff appealed, seeking a new trial.
Horvitz & Levy represented Muschinske on appeal. The plaintiff argued that a new trial was required because the defense violated the collateral source rule, which generally prohibits the admission of evidence that the plaintiff received compensation from another source. Plaintiff argued that the defendant violated that rule by introducing testimony from an expert witness who used Medicare reimbursement rates to form his opinions regarding the reasonable value of the medical services plaintiff received. The Court of Appeal disagreed holding, in a published opinion, that the defense expert’s testimony regarding Medicare reimbursement rates did not violate the collateral source rule because there was no deduction for past or future payments actually paid for by Medicare.