Friday, November 4, 2016

Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County Addresses Admissibility of Affordable Care Act to Challenge Claim of Future Medical Expenses in a Malpractice Action

In his recent decision in the case of Vaccaro v. Scranton Quincy Hospital Company, LLC, No. 2014-CV-7675 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Oct. 24, 2016 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed the issue of the admissibility of the Affordable Care Act to challenge a Plaintiff’s future life care plan damages evidence.  

This matter pertains to an obstetrical and hospital negligence claim.   The Defendant-obstetrician filed a Motion In Limine seeking leave of court to introduce evidence and cross-examine the Plaintiffs’ economic damages experts on the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires individuals to purchase health insurance and establish limits for annual out-of-pocket expenses.

The defense asserted that these new health insurance provisions provide grounds to reconsider and renounce the common-law collateral source rule that bars evidence of any payments made by a collateral source on behalf of a Plaintiff.  

Judge Nealon noted that, although Section 508(a) of the MCARE Act generally bars a Plaintiff from recovering damages for past medical expenses that are covered by a collateral source Section 509, governing claims for future medical expenses, does not contain comparable language abrogating the collateral source rule for future medical expenses claims.  

Judge Nealon also noted that the only relevant appellate precedent issued by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of Deeds v. University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, 110 A.3d 1009 (Pa. Super. 2015), appeal dismissed, 128 A.3d 764 (Pa. 2015),  resulted in a decision that referenced to the Affordable Care Act’s provisions in malpractice litigation constitutes “a patent violation of the collateral source rule.” 

Accordingly, Judge Nealon denied the Defendant’s Motion In Limine.  

Anyone wishing to review Judge Nealon's decision in Vaccaro may click this LINK.

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