Verdict - Spring 2018 - 38

> CASE UPDATES

Who Really Loses When Medical Funding
Becomes an Issue at Trial?
NOTWITHSTANDING THE COLLATERAL

ongoing financial relationship with the treat-

source rule, evidence of medical bill fund-

ing physicians cast doubt on their indepen-

ing by a "litigation investment company" is

dent judgment and fee structure.

admissible in a slip-and-fall tort case in fed-

While this ruling would appear to apply

eral district court, according to a recent rul-

to cases in federal district court governed

ing by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.1

by Georgia law, it is not binding in Georgia's

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM/BLAN-K

BY CHARLES E. "TRIP" JOHNSON, III

The plaintiff sued Publix in state court,

state and superior courts. It is, however,

alleging injury after slipping on liquid in a

persuasive authority and may sway some

grocery store. Publix removed on diversity

state court judges to admit similar evidence

voir dire. Bring it up in your opening and in

grounds to the Middle District of Georgia.

at trial. If a trial court permits evidence of

the direct examination of your client. These

One focus of discovery concerned the rela-

a medical funding company's relationship

are uncharted waters, so how far we can go

tionship between the plaintiff, her treating

with treating physicians to be admitted into

is not yet known. For example, can we cross

doctors, and third-party ML Healthcare. ML

evidence, two questions must be answered

examine the defendant about the failure to

Healthcare is a "litigation investment" com-

by plaintiff's counsel. First, is this as bad for

offer a treatment alternative to the person

pany that contracts with doctors to provide

the plaintiff's case as it may initially seem?

they injured? If the issue of plaintiff's decision

medical care for injured people with viable

And second, in any event, how should the

to use a medical funding company is admitted

tort claims who lack medical insurance. ML

issue be handled it at trial? Here are a few

in order to prove bias, this issue would seem

Healthcare purchases at a discounted rate

possible strategies.

to be fair game.

the medical debt that the plaintiffs incur with

If you lose the fight over the admissibility of

the right to later recover the full cost of the

medical funding, smile and embrace it. Unlike

medical care out of any tort settlement or

some issues that plaintiffs face, this need not

Normally, the issue of health insurance is

judgment. ML Healthcare entered into such

be a negative. In fact, it may turn an otherwise

not raised in voir dire. However, if your cli-

agreements with plaintiff and the treating

forgettable case into a moral outrage that a

ent's healthcare funding is at issue, the topic

doctors who would testify at her trial concern-

jury will respond to. Defendants will complain

is relevant. Rather than directly question-

ing her injuries.

to the jury about the relationship between the

ing prospective jurors about whether they

The trial court allowed this discovery to

medical funding company and the health care

are covered by health insurance, an indirect

go forward and required ML Healthcare to

providers it works with. Fair enough. But, did

approach may yield more honest responses

testify at trial. The jury subsequently returned

the defendant offer the uninsured plaintiff any

(and have a bigger impact):

a defense verdict. The plaintiff appealed, and

alternative after injuring her? Did the defen-

l How many of you have no idea how you

ML Healthcare joined the appeal as a third

dant, for example, offer to send plaintiff for

would pay for healthcare if you or a family

party.

VOIRE DIRE

treatment at another facility? Which is worse,

member became sick or injured and needed

The Eleventh Circuit held that the trial

borrowing money (that must be repaid) to

multiple medical tests and doctor visits?

court had not abused its discretion by per-

obtain needed medical treatment, or injuring

l How many of you personally know some-

mitting evidence of ML Healthcare's pay-

someone and refusing to help them get them

one outside of your family who would have no

ment arrangement "for the limited purpose

needed medical care?

idea how they'd pay for healthcare if they or a

of showing bias on the part of the doctors

If the issue of medical funding is going

who testified [at trial]." 2 Publix also argued

to be a part of your trial, your rebuttal must

l How many of you have no idea what medi-

the evidence of the relationship between

be integrated into your entire case, not just

cal care would cost if you had to pay for it

ML Healthcare and the doctors with which

mentioned once and forgotten. Plaintiff's

yourself?

it contracted should be admitted for show-

counsel must own the issue and lay the

l If Mrs. Smith was forced to borrow money

ing that Plaintiff's doctors were biased in

groundwork early. Being defensive is sim-

to pay for her healthcare due to the crash

their testimony and that Plaintiff's claimed

ply not an option.

at issue in this case, would any of you hold

medical expenses were unreasonable.

If health funding testimony will be permit-

The defense argued that ML Healthcare's

ted at trial, be the first to raise the issue in

38

Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

member of their family became sick or injured?

that against her if you are selected to serve
as a juror?


http://www.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM/BLAN-K

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2018

President’s Message
How I Obtained Justice: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Thank You to Outgoing Verdict Chairman, Madeleine Simmons
Look Before You Leap: Conducting Jury Focus Groups Before Trial
Voir Dire In Low Speed, Soft Tissue Injury Cases
Defeating Reptile Theory Motions in Limine
Leading the Jury Down the Right Path: Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
Hernandez v. State: Empowering Jurors to Seek the Truth
Exploding Takata Airbags From Cover-Up To Accountability
Using Simple Technology to Pick a Better Jury
Case Updates: Who Really Loses When Medical Funding Becomes an Issue at Trial?
Professional Practice Pointers: Voir Dire, An interview with Cobb County State Court Judge Allison Barnes Salter
Dig In To Do Good: Making the World a Better Place
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Champion Members
Meet The Experts
Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Intro
Verdict - Spring 2018 - bellyband1
Verdict - Spring 2018 - bellyband2
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover1
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover2
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 3
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 4
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 5
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 6
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 7
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 8
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 9
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 10
Verdict - Spring 2018 - President’s Message
Verdict - Spring 2018 - How I Obtained Justice: Sudden Emergency Doctrine
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 13
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 14
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Thank You to Outgoing Verdict Chairman, Madeleine Simmons
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Look Before You Leap: Conducting Jury Focus Groups Before Trial
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 17
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 18
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 19
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 20
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Voir Dire In Low Speed, Soft Tissue Injury Cases
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 22
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 23
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 24
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 25
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Defeating Reptile Theory Motions in Limine
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 27
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 28
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Leading the Jury Down the Right Path: Framing Your Case During Voir Dire
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 30
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Hernandez v. State: Empowering Jurors to Seek the Truth
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 32
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 33
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Exploding Takata Airbags From Cover-Up To Accountability
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 35
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 36
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Using Simple Technology to Pick a Better Jury
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Case Updates: Who Really Loses When Medical Funding Becomes an Issue at Trial?
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 39
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Professional Practice Pointers: Voir Dire, An interview with Cobb County State Court Judge Allison Barnes Salter
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Dig In To Do Good: Making the World a Better Place
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 42
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Champion Members
Verdict - Spring 2018 - 44
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Meet The Experts
Verdict - Spring 2018 - Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover3
Verdict - Spring 2018 - cover4
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