(California Supreme Court, S192768)
CMA, together with other amici, filed an amicus brief in support of Verdugo Hills Hospital in an appeal before the California Supreme Court involving issues of settlement and equitable allocation of responsibility, medical causation, MICRA's collateral source rule (Civil Code section 3333.1), and the right to periodic payments (Code of Civil Procedure section 667.7). This medical malpractice case involves permanent injury to a newborn infant for which the jury attributed fault to multiple defendants and the infant's parents. Following tactical and procedural maneuvering by the plaintiffs to maximize the amount of damages they would recover, a common law release rule was triggered that significantly reduced their recovery. CMA's brief urged the court to reconcile the public policy favoring equitable allocation between joint tortfeasors and that favoring settlement in a way that creates incentives to achieve equitable allocation of responsibility, settlement, and insurance. CMA argued that the collateral source rule under section 3333.1 should not be limited to past medical expense and an injured plaintiff should not recover for future medical services that the plaintiff will never pay or incur. The brief argued that the plaintiffs should not be awarded interest on damages that may never be paid in the future and that Civil Code section 3291 which provides for interest on the judgment should not run on medical malpractice periodic payments until the payments are due. On August 23, 2012, the California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal decision reducing plaintiff's recovery and concluded that the common law release rule is no longer to be followed in California. The court held that when a settlement with one defendant is determined not to have been made in good faith, non-settling defendants remain jointly and severally liable for plaintiff's economic damages. The Supreme Court did not rule on the MICRA issues as urged by CMA but rather, sent the case back to the Court of Appeal for further proceedings to address those issues. On January 22, 2013, in an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's decision (1) excluding evidence of future insurance benefits, (2) incorporating interest on damages under section 3291; and (3) requiring the Hospital to post security to assure full payment of the periodic payments judgment under section 667.7. The Hospital filed a petition for review of this most recent Court of Appeal opinion before the California Supreme Court. CMA, together with other amici, has filed a letter urging the Supreme Court to grant the petition for review.
CMA Amicus Brief filed: 10/6/11
California Supreme Court Opinion filed: 8/23/12
Court of Appeal Opinion filed: 1/22/13