Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Anderson

334 Ark. 561, 976 S.W.2d 382 (1998)

 

RULE:

Four situations exist in which the collateral source rule does not apply. They are cases in which a collateral source of recovery may be introduced (1) to rebut the plaintiff's testimony that he or she was compelled by financial necessity to return to work prematurely or to forego additional medical care; (2) to show that the plaintiff had attributed his condition to some other cause, such as sickness; (3) to impeach the plaintiff's testimony that he or she had paid his medical expenses himself; (4) to show that the plaintiff had actually continued to work instead of being out of work, as claimed. The court has also allowed evidence of collateral sources when the plaintiff opens the door to his or her financial condition.

FACTS:

Appellee was injured in a fall while shopping in appellant's store. She had surgical and other medical-services expenses, and appellant moved in limine to prohibit her from presenting the total amount billed as proof of her medical expenses, and asked that her evidence be limited to the actual amount for which she would be responsible to pay. Appellee had reached an agreement with the hospital, which would discount the bill by fifty percent. Appellant asserted that the collateral-source rule would prohibit appellee from introducing evidence of the discount. The trial court denied the motion in limine, ruling that the negotiated discount with the hospital was a collateral source, and allowed evidence of the entire amount billed by the hospital. Appellant contended that the ruling and the denial of the motion for new trial made on the same basis were erroneous.

ISSUE:

Whether gratuitous or discounted medical services were a collateral source not to be considered in assessing the damages due in a personal-injury action.

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The Court held that the trial court did not err in its decision to deny the appellant’s motion because the collateral-source rule required exclusion of evidence of the partial forgiveness of a debt for medical services rendered to appellee. Gratuitous or discounted medical services were a collateral source not to be considered in assessing the damages due appellant in her personal-injury action.

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