(2011) 52 Cal.4th 541

In Howell v. Hamilton Meats, Tyson & Mendes Founder and Managing Partner Robert Tyson successfully tried and argued before the California Supreme Court the most significant tort case in more than 40 years. Not only did Howell change the way California interprets the collateral source rule, but it also reshaped personal injury litigation across the state.

The Howell Court examined California’s “billed vs. paid” rule regarding medical damages – is plaintiff allowed to recover as past economic damages the amount plaintiff’s medical provider submits to plaintiff’s health insurance, or the much lower amount the health insurance company pays the provider in full satisfaction of those medical bills?

Howell concluded an injured plaintiff is limited to recovering the discounted amount private health insurance pays on their behalf as past medical damages, not the inflated amount medical providers bill health insurance companies for their services.

Following the Howell decision, California courts expanded the paid rule to apply to Medicare payments (Sanchez v. Strickland; Luttrell v. Island Pacific Supermarkets, Inc.), Medi-Cal payments (Sanchez v. Strickland), Workers’ Compensation payments (Sanchez v. Brooke), future medial damages (Corenbaum v. Lampkin), and noneconomic damages (Corenbaum v. Lampkin). Most recently, California extended the Howell rule to allow evidence of the Affordable Care Act when determining the cost of future care in medical malpractice cases (Cuevas v. Contra Costa County).

Tyson & Mendes is a leader in arguing damages across the nation. We frequently provide CE/CLE educational seminars on the latest Howell updates, trends we are seeing with plaintiff’s attorneys (including liens and factoring companies), and what we can do to combat plaintiff’s attorneys attempts to circumvent Howell.

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