Superior court of the state of california in and for the county of riverside john doe, adult son a, adult son b, adult daughter



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SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE


JOHN DOE, ADULT SON A, ADULT SON B, ADULT DAUGHTER,
Plaintiffs,
v.
ROE DEFENDANT, COMPANY X, ET AL.,
Defendants.






CASE NO. XXXXXX
PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION IN

LIMINE NO. 8: TO EXCLUDE REFERENCE TO COLLATERAL SOURCE BENEFITS OR PAYMENTS





TO DEFENDANTS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS OF RECORD:

Plaintiffs John Doe, Adult Son A, Adult Son B, and Adult Daughter move for an order in limine excluding any and all evidence, references to evidence, testimony, or argument relating to collateral-source benefits or payments, and that the Court further order counsel to instruct all witnesses as to the same.

Plaintiffs make this motion under Evidence Code §§ 350 and 352, and California case law discussed below. The grounds for this motion are that evidence of collateral-source payments received or to be received by plaintiffs is irrelevant, immaterial, has no probative value, would be highly prejudicial to plaintiffs, and would serve only to confuse the jury if introduced. Therefore, such evidence should be excluded and defendants, defense counsel, and all witnesses should be instructed not to make reference to collateral-source benefits or payments.

Plaintiffs base this motion on this notice, the supporting memorandum, the pleadings and papers on file in this action, and upon such evidence and argument as may be presented before or at the hearing of this matter.

Respectfully submitted,
MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

  1. Relevant Facts


This personal-injury and wrongful-death action arises out of a motor-vehicle collision. Roe Defendant was driving [at confidential location]. He was following a line of big rigs at about 55 mph when he suddenly made a left turn, crossing into the southbound lane directly in front of a motorcycle ridden by John Doe, with his wife Jane seated behind him as a passenger. John saw Roe Defendant’s car turn in front of his motorcycle and braked, but the collision was unavoidable. The motorcycle struck the right rear side of Roe Defendant’s car. John suffered severe orthopedic injuries. Jane was killed.

As a result of the collision, John Doe and Jane Doe’s surviving children may have received or be entitled to receive in the future compensation from, inter alia, Canadian social insurance or private insurance. Plaintiffs believe that defendant will attempt to introduce evidence of collateral source payments at trial so the jury will discount their damages.



  1. Legal Analysis

    1. Evidence referring or relating to the receipt of collateral-source payments should be excluded because it is irrelevant and prejudicial.



The collateral-source rule has long been a part of California law. “The rule derives its earliest articulation in cases of equity and admiralty, where a wrongdoer was held to be responsible for injury irrespective of whether anyone else provided protection or indemnity to the victim. ‘The respondent is not presumed to know, or bound to inquire, as to the relative equities of parties claiming the damages. He is bound to make satisfaction for the injury he has done.’ ”1

Thus, for example, the amount given to a plaintiff as disability payments may not be deducted from the judgment against the defendant. “While it is true that he [plaintiff] received $2 per day compensation while he was unable to work, that sum may not be deducted from his loss of earnings, because it was received from an insurance company under a policy owned and held by him. ‘ “Damages recoverable for a wrong are not diminished by the fact that the party injured has been wholly or partly indemnified for his loss by insurance effected by him, and to the procurement of which the wrongdoer did not contribute; ...” ’[citations].”2

The doctrine has been reaffirmed numerous times over the years.3 The principle has been applied to payments received through medical insurance,4 gratuitous medical care,5 disability income insurance,6 wages paid by employer during period of disability,7 employment leave,8 unemployment compensation,9 and disability retirement benefits.10

In the 1970 case of Helfend v. Southern California Rapid Transit District, the California Supreme Court stated the rule as follows: “[I]f an injured party receives some compensation for his injuries from a source wholly independent of the tortfeasor, such payment should not be deducted from the damages which the plaintiff would otherwise collect from the tortfeasor.”11 In that case, the defendant sought to introduce evidence that 80 percent of the plaintiff’s medical expenses had been paid by his insurance policy. 12

The court held that permitting the plaintiff’s recovery to be reduced by the amount his insurance company had paid would be improper under the collateral-source rule. The court noted the sound policy behind the rule:

The collateral source rule as applied here embodies the venerable concept that a person who has invested years of insurance premiums to assure his medical care should receive the benefits of his thrift. The tortfeasor should not garner the benefits of his victim's providence. [¶] The collateral source rule expresses a policy judgment in favor of encouraging citizens to purchase and maintain insurance for personal injuries and for other eventualities. Courts consider insurance a form of investment, the benefits of which become payable without respect to any other possible source of funds. If we were to permit a tortfeasor to mitigate damages with payments from plaintiff's insurance, plaintiff would be in a position inferior to that of having bought no insurance, because his payment of premiums would have earned no benefit. Defendant should not be able to avoid payment of full compensation for the injury inflicted merely because the victim has had the foresight to provide himself with insurance.13

Noting concerns about potential windfalls to plaintiffs and the possibility of “double recovery,” the court pointed out that in some situations, plaintiffs were required to reimburse their insurer through subrogation contracts.14 Moreover, “[e]ven in cases in which the contract or the law precludes subrogation or refund of benefits, or in situations in which the collateral source waives such subrogation or refund, the rule performs entirely necessary functions in the computation of damages. For example, the cost of medical care often provides both attorneys and juries in tort cases with an important measure for assessing the plaintiff’s general damages. To permit the defendant to tell the jury that the plaintiff has been recompensed by a collateral source for his medical costs might irretrievably upset the complex, delicate, and somewhat indefinable calculations which result in the normal jury verdict.”15 Quoting from commentary, the court noted: “ ‘For the present system, however, the rule seems to perform a needed function. At the very least, it removes some complex issues from the trial scene. At its best, in some cases, it operates as an instrument of what most of us would be willing to call justice.’ ”16

Thus, “[w]e therefore reaffirm our adherence to the collateral source rule in tort cases in which the plaintiff has been compensated by an independent collateral source—such as insurance, pension, continued wages, or disability payments—for which he had actually or constructively ... paid or in cases in which the collateral source would be recompensed from the tort recovery through subrogation, refund of benefits, or some other arrangement. Hence, we conclude that in a case in which a tort victim has received partial compensation from medical insurance coverage entirely independent of the tortfeasor the trial court properly followed the collateral source rule and foreclosed defendant from mitigating damages by means of the collateral payments.”17

Subsequent cases have reaffirmed the continuing vitality of the rule. In Arambula v. Wells,18 a 1999 case in the Court of Appeal, the plaintiff, who worked for a family-owned company, continued to receive his weekly salary from his brother after a car accident. The plaintiff did not prove at trial that his brother had the right to be reimbursed, and the trial court therefore instructed the jury not to award damages for lost earnings.19

The appellate court found this was error, holding that the collateral-source rule allowed the plaintiff to recover despite receiving compensation from an external source.20 The court held that public policy weighed heavily in favor of applying the rule to gratuitous payments.21 Further, the court noted that the “collateral source rule also recognizes the inadequacies of damage awards for personal injuries. That is because ‘[l]egal “compensation” for personal injuries does not actually compensate. Not many people would sell an arm for the average or even the maximum amount that juries award for loss of an arm. Moreover the injured person seldom gets the compensation he “recovers,” for a substantial attorney’s fee usually comes out of it. The Rule helps to remedy these problems inherent in compensating the tort victim.’ ”22

Here, plaintiffs may have received or be entitled to receive in the future compensation from, inter alia, private insurance. Under the collateral-source rule as interpreted and applied by California courts, evidence of these payments and benefits is inadmissible. Because evidence of collateral-source benefits is not relevant to any issues here to be determined by the jury, it should be excluded.23 Admission of such evidence would result in undue and unnecessary consumption of time, create the danger of undue prejudice to plaintiffs, and mislead and confuse the jurors by causing them to think that such collateral-source payments raised issues in this case.24

  1. Conclusion


Plaintiffs John Doe, Adult Son A, Adult Son B, and Adult Daughter respectfully request that the Court grant this motion in limine and order that defendants and their counsel may not make any reference whatsoever to collateral-source benefits or payments, to redact all references of Sousa’s co-payments from any medical bills proffered as evidence, and to instruct counsel to advise all witnesses:

1. Not to mention, refer to, or attempt to convey to the jury in any manner, either directly or indirectly, any of the facts mentioned in this motion, without first obtaining permission of the Court outside the presence and hearing of the jury; and

2. Not to make any reference to the fact that this motion has been filed.

Respectfully submitted,




1 Smock v. State of California (2006) 138 Cal.App.4th 883, 886, citation omitted.

2 Peri v. L.A. Junction Ry. Co. (1943) 22 Cal.2d 111, 131, citations omitted.

3 See De Cruz v. Reid (1968) 69 Cal.2d 217, 223-227.

4 See Helfend v. Southern California Rapid Transit Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 1, 6‑10; Gersick v. Shilling (1950) 97 Cal.App.2d 641, 650.

5 See Rodriguez v. McDonnell Douglas Corp. (1978) 87 Cal.App.3d 626, 660‑662.

6 See Hrnjak v. Graymar, Inc. (1971) 4 Cal.3d 725, 728; Peri v. L.A. Junction Ry. (1943) 22 Cal.2d 111, 131.

7 See Tremeroli v. Austin Trailer Equipment Co. (1951) 102 Cal.App.2d 464, 482; Ferrario v. Conyes (1937) 19 Cal.App.2d 58, 61.

8 See Lewis v. County of Contra Costa (1955) 130 Cal.App.2d 176, 178.

9 See Gypsum Carrier, Inc. v. Handelsman (9th Cir. 1962) 307 F.2d 525, 535.

10 See Hume v. Lacey (1952) 112 Cal.App.2d 147, 151‑152.

11 Helfend, supra, 2 Cal.3d at p. 6, fn. and citation omitted.

12 Id. at p. 5.

13 Helfend, supra, 2 Cal.3d at pp. 9-10.

14 Helfend, supra, 2 Cal.3d at pp. 10-11.

15 Id. at pp. 11-12, fn. and citations omitted.

16 Id. at p. 7, fn. 6, citation omitted.

17 Helfend, supra, 2 Cal.3d at pp. 13-14.

18 (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1006.

19 Id. at pp. 1008-1009.

20 Arambula, supra, at p. 1009.

21 Id. at p. 1012.

22 Id. at pp. 1009-1010, fn. 7, citation omitted.

23 See Evid. Code § 350.

24 See Evid. Code § 352.


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PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 8:

TO EXCLUDE REFERENCE TO COLLATERAL SOURCE BENEFITS OR PAYMENTS



{Edited - Limine 8. Collateral Sources.DOC}



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