Judge: Theresa M. Traber, Case: BC659846, Date: 2022-07-29 Tentative Ruling

Case Number: BC659846    Hearing Date: July 29, 2022    Dept: 47


Case No. BC659846



Defendants’ MIL #1 – to exclude witnesses under Evidence Code § 777

RULING:  GRANTED as to all non-party witnesses until after they have completed their testimony in this action.

Defendants’ MIL #2
– to exclude any experts not properly designated and any expert testimony from lay witnesses

RULING:  DENIED without prejudice.  Defendant has identified no expert or lay testimony sought to be excluded.  Nor has it been shown that expert designations were ever demanded in this case pursuant to CCP § 2034.210.

Defendants’ MIL #3
– to exclude evidence or argument about any medical billing amounts that were provided on a lien basis from any health care provider.

RULING:  DENIED, the medical bills provided to Plaintiff and the amounts on those bills are relevant even if the services were provided by the health care provider on a lien basis. 

“Plaintiff has a two-step burden of proof in establishing damages for past medical services. The measure of recovery is well established: “[A] person injured by another's tortious conduct is entitled to recover the reasonable value of medical care and services reasonably required and attributable to the tort.” (Hanif [v. Housing Authority (1988) 200 Cal.App.3d 635,] 640, 246 Cal.Rptr. 192.) First, plaintiff must prove that she actually incurred the medical expenses and the amount of her liability for the expenses caps her potential recovery.  Hanif, followed by Nishihama v. City and County of San Francisco (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 298, 112 Cal.Rptr.2d 861 (Nishihama) and Howell [v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal.4th 541] . . . resolved this rather straightforward issue. Second, plaintiff must prove the reasonable value of the medical services but is entitled to no more than the expenses she actually incurred. ‘[A] plaintiff may recover as economic damages no more than the reasonable value of the medical services received and is not entitled to recover the reasonable value if his or her actual loss was less.’  (Howell, supra, 52 Cal.4th at p. 555, 129 Cal.Rptr.3d 325, 257 P.3d 1130.)”  (Moore v. Mercer (2016) 4 Cal. App. 5th 424, 436-437.)

            Even if the defendants in a particular case might be entitled to a reduction based on negotiated discounts available under MediCal or through private insurance, the actual amounts billed to plaintiffs and the bills reflecting those amounts are admissible at trial, “as they reflect[ ] on the nature and extent of plaintiffs' injuries and were therefore relevant to their assessment of an overall general damage award.”  (Katiuzhinsky v. Perry (2007) 152 Cal. App. 4th 1288, 1296.)  Further, even if the liens provided in exchange for medical services are sold to a third party, the amounts paid for the liens as receivables may be excluded at trial as irrelevant, so long as the plaintiffs remain fully liable for the full amount of the medical provider’s charges.  (Id., at p. 1296; Moore v. Mercer, supra, at pp. 438-439.) 

In any event, Defendant does not provide sufficient information for the Court to determine whether there is a specific basis for excluding Plaintiff’s medical bills, despite the general rule that they are admissible to show the reasonable value of the medical services provided.  In the absence of such details, the Court cannot grant the motion in limine.  The specific facts in a particular case determine what is or is not relevant because “evidence which might be admissible in one case might not be admissible in another.”  (Id., at p. 442.)     

Defendant’s MIL #4
– to exclude all evidence of Defendant’s financial condition until after the jury awards actual damages and makes a finding of fraud, malice or oppression under Civil Code § 3294.

RULING:  GRANTED, pursuant to Civil Code § 3295(d).

Defendant’s MIL #5
-- to exclude any witnesses or evidence not previously disclosed. 

RULING:  DENIED.  Defendant has not identified any specific evidence or witnesses that should be excluded or demonstrate a right to an exclusion order. 

In general, a party who has responded to formal written discovery has no affirmative duty to supplement its responses when new information comes into its possession.  (Biles v. Exxon Mobil Corp. (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 1315, 1318–1319, 1328.)  “[A]bsent unusual circumstances, such as repeated and egregious discovery abuses,” courts will not impose an evidentiary sanction for a failure to disclose unless there has been a “willful” failure to disclose.  (Id., at p. 1327.)  Here, there has been no showing that any of Plaintiff’s discovery responses were willfully false or incomplete.  (Id., at p. 1323-1324.)  Nor has Defendant pointed to any violation of a court order directing Plaintiff to provide further answers to Defendant’s discovery.  In A & M Recs., Inc. v. Heilman (1977) 75 Cal. App. 3d 554, 565 – a case on which Defendant relies – the trial court barred use of certain documents, not because they were not disclosed in discovery, but because they were not produced in violation of a court order. 

Here, Defendant has not only failed to identify specific witnesses, documents or information that it claims should be excluded, but he has also made no effort to show that any non-disclosure by Plaintiff was willful or that the failure to disclose violated a court order.  On this record, there is no basis for an exclusion order.

Defendant’s MIL #
– to exclude all evidence insurance coverage.

RULING:  GRANTED, pursuant to Evidence Code § 1155.



Dated: July 29, 2022                           ___________________________________

                                                                                    Theresa M. Traber

                                                                                    Judge of the Superior Court


            Any party may submit on the tentative ruling by contacting the courtroom via email at Smcdept47@lacourt.org by no later than 4:00 p.m. the day before the hearing. All interested parties must be copied on the email. It should be noted that if you submit on a tentative ruling the court will still conduct a hearing if any party appears. By submitting on the tentative you have, in essence, waived your right to be present at the hearing, and you should be aware that the court may not adopt the tentative, and may issue an order which modifies the tentative ruling in whole or in part.