Subject Matter: Missouri Decision Regarding Medical Damages
For some time we have noticed that the Missouri Circuit Courts have begun to show a tendency to allow plaintiffs to overcome the rebuttable presumption created by the Missouri tort reform provisions of RSMO 490.715.5. The legislature amended section 490.715.5 in 2005 to limit the evidence litigants could introduce regarding the value of medical treatment rendered to an injured party. The legislation created a rebuttable presumption that the dollar amount necessary to satisfy a plaintiffâ€™s financial obligation to his or her health care provider constituted the value of the medical treatment rendered. Section 490.715.5(1). The amendment also created a non-exclusive list of factors to be considered in determining the value of medical treatment rendered. Section 490.715.5(2)(a)-(c). This provision was clearly a legislative compromise provision that sought to limit plaintiffs to the lesser amount actually paid by Medicare or another third party, while leaving open the possibility that the much larger amount billed could be submitted if plaintiffs could present the right evidence. Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs have been working aggressively since the statuteâ€™s creation to create the model to overcome the rebuttable presumption and it now appears that this mission has now been accomplished.
In Deck v. Teasley, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court and found that plaintiff in the auto injury case had overcome the rebuttable presumption by presenting testimony from billing personnel from the hospital, a retained expert, and treating physicians who all opined that the reasonable value of the care was the amount billed, not the far lesser amount paid. While decisions on this issue will still be a matter of discretion for the Circuit Courts, this decision is notable in that it essentially provides a road map to plaintiffs for how to successfully rebut the presumption that they can only recover the amount paid. It is also of note in that it opens the door for retained experts to be brought in by plaintiffs to address this issue. Thus, while not a surprising opinion in light of the plaintiff oriented views of the Missouri courts, it is nonetheless something to consider when evaluating potential damages in Missouri cases.
Firm/Company: Logan Logan & Watson L.C.
Document Date: October 27, 2010
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