MILLER, P. J., DOYLE, P. J., and REESE, J.
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,  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. For the reasons set forth, infra, we
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[.]"
filed a motion to modify on the grounds that such questioning
was "not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery
of admissible evidence[.]"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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
appeals from this ruling.
§ 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[.]" We review a trial court's ruling on
such a motion for abuse of discretion. With these
guiding principles in mind, we turn now to WellStar's
specific claim of error.
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
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[,
]" 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 ...