Supreme Court Reaffirms Collateral Source Rule

          On June 2, 2016, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dedmon v. Steelman, et al., an opinion which was a shot heard around the State of Tennessee regarding its possible impact on the collateral source rule in Tennessee in thousands of personal injury cases. The majority opinion was authored by Judge Brandon Gibson, with a concurrence by Special Judge Joe G. Riley.  Since that time, parties and lawyers took sides on the meaning of the case, and so did both federal and state trial courts.  On one side were those courts who found that the collateral source rule remained in force in Tennessee, and that the Dedmon opinion had changed nothing.  On the other side were those courts who found that the amount of medical bills that could be proven by the plaintiff as reasonable was only the amount that was actually paid, or took a hybrid approach, allowing the jury to hear both the full, undiscounted amount of bills as well as the discounted amount.

As more and more parties in settlement negotiations–and more and more courts–took sides, the  bench and bar waited with bated breath once the Tennessee Supreme Court accepted the application for permission to appeal on October 21, 2016.  Almost exactly 13 months later, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Holly Kirby in Dedmon v. Steelman, ____ S.W.3d ____, 2017 WL 5505409 (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2017).  Its holding reaffirmed the collateral source rule completely, reinstating the law in Tennessee prior to Dedmon, and adopting the majority rule in the United States on the application of the collateral source rule in personal injury cases.  It is a landmark decision, and the opinion was more anticipated than perhaps any tort opinion since the Supreme Court in McIntyre v. Balentine adopted comparative fault in 1992.

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Supreme Court Reaffirms Collateral Source Rule

       On June 2, 2016, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dedmon v. Steelman,  an opinion which was a shot heard around the State of Tennessee regarding its possible impact on the collateral source rule in Tennessee in thousands of personal injury cases. The majority opinion was authored by Judge Brandon Gibson, with a concurrence by Special Judge Joe G. Riley.  The impact of the opinion quickly became a heated topic of debate among parties, practitioners, and the bench.  Some courts found that the collateral source rule remained in force in Tennessee, and that the Dedmon opinion had changed nothing.  Others determined that the collateral source rule had been augmented such that the amount of medical bills that could be proven by the plaintiff as reasonable was only the amount that was actually paid.  Some took a hybrid approach, allowing the jury to hear both the full, un-discounted amount of bills as well as the discounted amount. The entire bench and bar waited with baited breath for the Supreme Court to weigh in… [Read more…]

Legislative (Non)Update: Legislative Lack of Interest

Pending legislation can often be a harbinger of change, even if it doesn’t pass the first time around.  This legislative session has seen several bills that, while unsuccessful this time, might still be of interest to legislators and lawyers next session… [Read more…]

Legislative Update

The General Assembly is back in session and that means that more than a few items of interest will be considered in the next few months.  Here are some matters under consideration that will impact the legal system and the ability of Tennesseans to have access to justice. [Read more…]

Collateral Source Rule under Attack

This article by Donald Capparella originally appeared in the Tennessee Tort Law Letter.

The Court of Appeals recently decided a case that will affect every personal injury case in Tennessee… [Read more…]