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COMPENSATORY DAMAGES / COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE - MAGRINAT V. MADDOX

Magrinat v. Maddox, [Ms. 2150357, Aug. 26, 2016] __ So.3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2016). Magrinat was injured in an automobile collision with Maddox, brought suit, and was awarded $42,000 in compensatory damages in a non-jury proceeding before the Lee Circuit Court. Evidence at trial from an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Buggay, was that surgery was required to repair an injury to Magrinat's arm and that the charge for the surgery was $9,281 for his services, but that Dr. Buggay sold Magrinat's debt to OrthoUSA for $3,200 with the understanding that OrthoUSA would try to collect the balance from Magrinat. Nevertheless, the Lee Circuit Court awarded only $3,200 for this component of Magrinat's compensatory damages award. Magrinat then appealed, challenging the amount of damages awarded and contending that the trial court used the wrong measure of damages in determining that amount.

Magrinat argued that the proper measure of damages should include the amount of the charges for which he is responsible and not the amount that Dr. Buggay agreed to accept from OrthoUSA in selling the debt. Ms. *3, 7. The Court of Civil Appeals characterized the issue as a "question of first impression in Alabama." Ms. *7. Maddox countered that the proper measure is the amount actually paid to the surgeon. Id., citing AMF Bowling Centers, Inc. v. Dearman, 683 So.2d 436 (Ala. 1995). The Court of Civil Appeals agreed with Magrinat:

"[T]he general rule regarding the recovery of medical expenses, including hospital expenses resulting from personal injuries, is that a plaintiff may recover those medical expenses that are reasonable and necessary." Ex parte Hicks, 537 So.2d 486, 489–90 (Ala. 1988); Hooks v. Pettaway, 142 So.3d 1151, 1158 (Ala. Civ. App. 2013). "This Court has consistently held that '[c]ompensatory damages are designed to make the plaintiff whole by reimbursing him or her for the loss or harm suffered.' Ex parte Moebes, 709 So.2d 477, 478 (Ala. 1997); see Torsch v. McLeod, 665 So.2d 934, 940 (Ala. 1995)." Ex parte Goldsen, 783 So.2d 53, 56 (Ala. 2000); see also Ex parte S&M, LLC, 120 So.3d 509, 510 (Ala. 2012).

Ms. * 9-10. The court found persuasive the reasoning of Katiuzhinsky v. Perry, 152 Cal. App. 4th 1288, 62 Cal. Rptr. 3d, 309 (2007), that "[t]he intervention of a third party in purchasing a medical lien does not prevent a plaintiff from recovering the amounts billed by the medical provider for care and treatment, as long as the plaintiff legitimately incurs those expenses and remains liable for their payment." Ms. * 11, quoting Katiuzhinsky, 152 Cal. App. 4th at 1291, 62 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 310. Accordingly, the judgment for compensatory damages is reversed and the cause remanded for the trial court to apply the proper measure of damages and to recalculate its damage award.

Related Documents: Magrinat v Maddox

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