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Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc.

California Supreme Court
257 P.3d 1130 (2011)


Facts

Rebecca Howell (plaintiff) was injured in a car wreck caused by an employee of Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (Hamilton) (defendant). Howell received medical treatment for her injuries and was billed $189,978.63 for the medical treatment. Howell signed patient agreements with each of the facilities where she received care and agreed to pay the usual and customary charges for that care. However, Howell had private health insurance through PacifiCare, which had agreements with these medical facilities regarding reimbursement rates. Based on these agreements, PacifiCare paid $130,286.90 less than what was billed to Howell. That amount was then written off by the facilities. Howell sued Hamilton, seeking to recover the full amount that she was billed. Hamilton admitted fault, but Hamilton asserted that Howell was not entitled to recover the amount written-off pursuant to the private health-insurance agreements. The trial court ruled in favor of Hamilton and deducted the written-off amount from the total award. Howard appealed. Relying on the collateral-source rule, the appellate court found that it was improper to deduct the written-off amount from the total award and reversed the trial court’s ruling. Hamilton petitioned the California Supreme Court for review.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)

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Dissent (Klein, J.)

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