SAN DIEGO (August 18, 2022) – Eleven years ago today, civil litigation and insurance defense firm Tyson & Mendes LLP argued and won Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions – the landmark California Supreme Court decision that forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by holding that an injured plaintiff is only allowed to recover the lower amount paid by health insurance to satisfy medical bills rather than the inflated figure billed to insurance companies by physicians and hospitals.
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). California also 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).
These extensions have saved insurers and defendants billions of dollars over the last decade – protecting not just insurance companies, but also consumers by serving as a tool to determine the reasonable value of medical care and insurance premiums – and have had far-reaching impact on jury verdicts and appellate court rulings across California and beyond.
Yet creative plaintiffs’ attorneys continue to find ways to erode Howell’s protections, according to Strategic Managing Partner Robert Tyson, who served as lead defense attorney for the 2011 case. “Recent case law has gutted the commonsense guidance provided by Howell,” he said. “The defense industry needs to step up and fight if we have any hope of achieving justice for all, not just injured plaintiffs and their attorneys.”
One such case is 2021’s Qaadir v. Figueroa et al., which held unpaid medical bills, including medical treatment provided on a lien basis, are admissible to prove the reasonable value of plaintiff’s past medical damages at trial.
“The use of medical liens and factoring companies are two of the biggest trends we’re seeing from plaintiffs’ attorneys trying to circumvent Howell. At Tyson & Mendes, all our attorneys are trained to combat these unscrupulous tactics, and we frequently travel the country and host events and webinars to share this knowledge with insurers and their defense counsels,” said Kristi Blackwell, who assisted in preparing the petition and opening brief for Howell as an associate with the firm and has since risen up the ranks to equity partner.
In the years since the Howell decision, Tyson & Mendes has established itself as a leader in driving down damages awards and continues to answer the call in battling Nuclear Verdicts® – often defined as jury awards in excess of $10 million. Using a unique set of proven defense methods, the firm saved clients more than $667 million in 2021, and $571 million thus far in 2022.
For more information, visit tysonmendes.com.
About Tyson & Mendes LLP
Celebrating 20 years of taking back justice for all, Tyson & Mendes LLP is a nationwide, AV-rated litigation and trial firm specializing in insurance defense and protecting its clients from Nuclear Verdicts®. Robert Tyson and Patrick Mendes founded the firm in 2002 to defend corporations, insurance companies, and their clients in civil litigation matters. The firm has experienced tremendous growth in the past two decades, with offices across the U.S. serving clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The firm is most widely recognized for winning the landmark Howell v. Hamilton Meats California Supreme Court case, which forever changed the state’s litigation landscape by significantly impacting the damages a plaintiff may recover. Robert Tyson is also the author of the Amazon Bestseller Nuclear Verdicts®: Defending Justice for All, the first playbook for the defense on how to avoid runaway jury verdicts. For more information, visit www.tysonmendes.com.
Ashley Bendas, J. Walcher Communications