Friday, November 19, 2010

New Superior Court Case Regarding Naming Medicare on Settlement Drafts

In its recent November 17, 2010 decision on an appeal from a Luzerne County case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the issue of naming Medicare on settlement checks in the case of Zaleppa v. Seiwell, 2010 Pa.Super. 208 (Pa.Super. Nov. 17, 2010, Allen, Mundy, and Colville, JJ.).

At trial, the Plaintiff had obtained a $15,000.00 jury verdict against the Defendants, $5,000 of which was for future medical expenses and the remainder of which was for pain and suffering.

On post-trial motions, the Defendants argued that the trial court erred in denying the Defendants' request that the court enter an Order directing the Defendants to pay the verdict either (1) by naming Medicare, along with the Plaintiff and her attorneys, as payees on the check satisfying the verdict, or (2) by paying the verdict into court pending notification from Medicare that all outstanding Medicare liens had been satisfied.

In its Opinion, the Superior Court noted that the Plaintiff was 69 years of age at the time of the car accident that was the subject of this litigation. However, there was no evidence presented at the trial court level that any of the Plaintiffs' past medical treatment had been paid by Medicare to date. The Superior Court additionally noted that there was no claim presented for any past medical expenses by the Plaintiff because she was precluded from doing so by 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1722 in that the first party medical benefits under her own automobile insurance policy had not been exhausted. The Zaleppa Court further emphasized that the jury did not enter any award for past medical expenses.

The Superior Court held that there was no legal basis under either federal or Pennsylvania law to assert the interests of the United States government as to the reimbursement of Medicare liens. As such, the Superior Court held that the trial court properly denied the Defendants' request in this regard.

It is noted that the Superior Court does a nice analysis of a defendant's (and arguably a plaintiff's) obligations under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSPA). To review this Opinion, click on this link:

I was made aware of this recent, important decision by Attorney Ron Marrero, of Robert J. Casey & Associates (State Farm house counsel, Philadelphia) and I send a "thanks" his way..

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