Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital v. Roman

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Second Division

January 30, 2018

WELLSTAR KENNESTONE HOSPITAL
v.
ROMAN.

          MILLER, P. J., DOYLE, P. J., and REESE, J.

          REESE, JUDGE.

         Autumn McKinney sued Mario Roman for injuries McKinney allegedly sustained from an automobile collision caused by Roman. Roman served WellStar Kennestone Hospital with a Notice of Deposition of Non-Party, [1] directing in part that WellStar designate an officer or employee to testify regarding the rates it charged seven categories of patients for the services it had provided to McKinney on the date of the collision. WellStar appeals from the denial of its motion to modify the subpoena to exclude any questioning regarding how much the hospital was willing to "write off" its bills.[2] For the reasons set forth, infra, we affirm.

         In the underlying complaint, McKinney alleged that, as the result of Roman's negligence, she incurred medical expenses, including $15, 919 with WellStar, where she was treated in the emergency room on the day of the collision. Roman sought to depose WellStar regarding its "rates or charges for those services . . . if provided to uninsured patients; to insured patients; to patients under workers compensation plans; to patients under Medicare or Medicaid plans; and to litigant and non-litigant patients[.]"

         WellStar filed a motion to modify on the grounds that such questioning was "not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence[.]"[3]Specifically, WellStar argued that the money a hospital wrote off a patient's bill was a collateral source and was therefore inadmissible to mitigate a tortfeasor's damages.

         Roman responded that he sought this information to support his contention that $15, 919 was not a reasonable charge for the services rendered. Roman believed that the amount WellStar "charged" to McKinney, whom Roman believed did not have health insurance at the time of the collision, exceeded what WellStar typically expected to be paid for the same services by insured individuals by approximately $13, 125.

         The trial court found that the evidence sought by Roman was not barred by the collateral source rule:

[The] collateral source rule bars defendants from presenting evidence that the claimant has received payment from a third party. Thus, [Roman] would be precluded from introducing evidence of WellStar's write-off of Plaintiff's medical treatment.[4] However, the Court finds no authority in Georgia law to support Non-Party WellStar's contention that the collateral source rule bars the discovery of the medical rates and charges of third parties that are not involved in this case.[5]

         The court thus denied WellStar's motion to modify subpoena, but further ordered that:

while the Defendant may make arguments and offer opinions at trial on the reasonableness of Plaintiff's medical fees, Defendant[ ] may not present evidence regarding the existence of insurance or insurance payments that may have been received by Plaintiff as a result of her alleged injuries. Nor may evidence of the fees charged by non-Party WellStar to other persons (or write-offs associated with these charges) refer to the existence of insurance or insurance benefits.

         WellStar appeals from this ruling.[6]

         "OCGA § 24-13-23 permits subpoenas for the production of evidence, which a trial court may, upon written motion, . . . quash or modify if the subpoena is unreasonable and oppressive[.]"[7] We review a trial court's ruling on such a motion for abuse of discretion.[8] With these guiding principles in mind, we turn now to WellStar's specific claim of error.

         WellStar argues that "[t]he trial court erred in finding that the evidence Roman seeks - how much WellStar is willing to write off its hospital bills for different types of patients - is discoverable because it is 'not barred by the collateral source rule.'"

         WellStar misstates the trial court's ruling. Although the trial court emphasized that Roman would be precluded from introducing evidence of "WellStar's write-off of Plaintiff's medical treatment[, ]"[9] it did not state that Roman could introduce evidence at trial of the medical rates and charges of third parties. Instead, the trial court stated that it found no authority to support WellStar's contention that the collateral source rule barred discovery of the medical rates and charges of third parties. As the trial court implied, WellStar had the burden to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.