Wal-Mart v. Cossgrove 2012CO31 (April 30, 2012)

How much should an injured plaintiff get paid because of an injury caused by a tortfeasor? In this case, a tort plaintiff is injured, sues, and a jury found the defendant liable for damages. The jury also awarded $50,000 in economic damages. Plaintiff’s healthcare provider billed about $250,000 for treatment; the health insurance company only paid $40,000, a fact presented to the jury. Collateral sources of payment, such as payments by health insurance, do not reduce a plaintiff’s damages, because to do so would reward a tortfeasor with someone else’s money; this is the collateral source rule. The Rule excludes pre-verdict evidence of collateral payments and also offsets the collateral payments post-verdict. Here, the Court ruled that under the common-law collateral source rule, the jury should not have heard evidence of the $40,000 payment.

http://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2010/10SC516.pdf

http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8502&courtid=2

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2 Comments

Filed under Evidence, Personal Injury, Torts

2 responses to “Wal-Mart v. Cossgrove 2012CO31 (April 30, 2012)

  1. It is not clear that this case will apply much longer since In re Smith v. Jeppsen 2012CO32 interprets the statute that has replaced the common law rule. Smith addressed the statute (13-21-111.5 and 13-21-111.6), in a case filed before the statute was passed, but for which no “recovery” had been made. Both cases came to the same conclusion, however. In light of what the defense bar has called “phantom damages” (awarding damages that were not actually incurred by Plaintiff because of how insurance pays a lower rate), additional legislation will likely be proposed to further modify the rule.

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  2. Pingback: James C. Smith and Dona Laurita, v. Alan W. Kinningham and Accelerated Network Solutions, Inc., 2013COA,103 (July 3, 2013) | Colorado Litigation Report ™

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