September 22, 2018

Archives for September 4, 2018

Caryn Datz Appointed to 17th Judicial District Court; Chantel Contiguglia Appointed to Arapahoe County Court

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper appointed Caryn Datz to the district court in the 17th Judicial District and Chantel Contiguglia to the Arapahoe County Court in the 18th Judicial District. Datz will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Hon. Thomas R. Ensor, effective September 28, 2018, and Contiguglia will fill a vacancy created by the appointment of Hon. Darren Vahle to the district court, effective immediately.

Datz is currently a Chief Trial Deputy for the 20th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, where she prosecutes sexual assault cases, supervises four Deputy District Attorneys, and serves as a victim advocate assigned to the Sexual Assault Unit. She also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado School of Law. Prior to her work in the 20th Judicial District, Datz was a deputy district attorney in the 17th Judicial District from 2006 to 2013. She also worked as a public defender in Florida from 2001 to 2004. She received her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Contiguglia is currently a Senior Deputy Public Defender at the Office of the State Public Defender in Golden, where she has been since 2007. She represents clients facing felony charges in cases that are often complex. She has previously also handled traffic, misdemeanor, and juvenile cases, including juvenile delinquency matters and direct filings. She received her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and her undergraduate degree from Mesa State College.

For more information about the appointments, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Hospital Lien Statute Only Applies to Lien Violations Existing at the Time a Complaint is Filed

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Marchant v. Boulder Community Health, Inc. on Thursday, August 23, 2018.

Hospital Lien Statute—Statutory Penalties—Summary Judgment.

Marchant’s daughter was struck by an automobile and received medical treatment from Boulder Community Health, Inc. (BCH) for which she was billed $27,681.10. Cardon Outreach, LLC (Cardon), as agent for BCH, filed a statutory lien in that amount “upon the net amount payable . . . as damages on account of such injuries,” without first billing the daughter’s insurance company. BCH subsequently made an insurance adjustment to reduce the bill and billed the insurer, which paid $6,999.36, leaving a balance of $777.74. Cardon amended the lien to that amount. Marchant paid the balance, and the lien was released. Later, Marchant, as guardian of her daughter, filed an amended complaint alleging violation of the hospital lien statute, C.R.S. § 38-27-101, regarding her right to seek damages of twice the amount of the hospital lien filed.

The parties filed cross-motions for determination of a question of law, and the trial court ruled that C.R.S. § 38-27-101(7) only provides standing for a lawsuit if the plaintiff is subject to an improper lien at the time the legal action is filed. The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, plaintiff contended that the trial court misinterpreted the hospital lien statute. The parties agreed that when the lien was filed it violated the hospital lien statute. However, the lien did not violate the statute at the time the lawsuit was commenced. The statute clearly applies only to liens that violate the statute at the time a complaint is filed. Thus, the statute does not allow plaintiff to seek damages.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Medicare Benefits Fall Within Contract Exception to Collateral Source Rule

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Forfar v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. on Thursday, August 23, 2018.

Insurance—Collateral Source Rule—Medicare Benefits—Premises Liability.

Forfar, a Medicare beneficiary, slipped and fell at a Wal-Mart store. He filed a premises liability case. Before trial, Wal-Mart moved to exclude evidence of Forfar’s medical expenses owed under agreements he had with his medical providers. Forfar moved in limine to exclude evidence that he had received Medicare benefits. The trial court ruled that Wal-Mart could not present evidence to the jury as to the amount of the Medicare limits and that Forfar could not present evidence of private contracts between himself and any third-party medical providers. Forfar was allowed to present evidence of the reasonable value of medical services, for which he sought $72,636. After trial, Wal-Mart moved to reduce the damages under C.R.S. § 13-21-111.6, arguing that the economic damages awarded for medical expenses should be reduced to Medicare accepted rates. The trial court denied the motion, holding that Medicare benefits fall within the contract exception to the collateral source rule in C.R.S. § 13-21-111.6. The judgment entered on a jury verdict included $44,000 in economic damages for the reasonable value of medical services that Forfar had received.

On appeal, Wal-Mart contended that the trial court should have reduced the damages, arguing that the amounts paid by Medicare are dispositive of the necessary and reasonable value of medical services provided to Forfar. Pre-verdict, the collateral source rule, C.R.S. § 10-1-135(10)(a), bars evidence of collateral source benefits, and the correct measure of damages is the reasonable value of medical services. A benefit is not excluded from the definition of a collateral source simply because it comes from a government program. The trial court properly held Medicare benefits to be a collateral source inadmissible as evidence based on C.R.S. § 10-1-135(10)(a).

Wal-Mart also challenged the trial court’s holding that Medicare benefits fall within the contract exception to the collateral source rule. Post-verdict, the trial court is required to reduce a plaintiff’s verdict by the amount the plaintiff “has been or will be wholly or partially indemnified or compensated for his loss by any other person, corporation, insurance company or fund.” The exception to this prohibits trial courts from reducing a plaintiff’s verdict by the amount of indemnification or compensation that the plaintiff has received from “a benefit paid as a result of a contract entered into and paid for by or on behalf of the plaintiff.” Medicare benefits fall within the contract exception to the collateral source rule of C.R.S. § 13-21-111.6. The trial court properly applied the contract exception to Medicare benefits.

Wal-Mart further contended that the trial court violated the Supremacy Clause by failing to apply the Medicaid statutes and regulations over the collateral source rule, asserting that no person may be liable for payment of amounts billed in excess of Medicare approved charges. The Medicare statutes Wal-Mart relies on do not preempt Colorado law holding it liable for the reasonable value of Forfar’s medical services.

The court of appeals declined to award Forfar attorney fees because the issues presented by Wal-Mart were novel and supported by some out-of-state authority.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 8/31/2018

On Friday, August 31, 2018, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

Guy v. Lampert

United States v. Blanton

Schneberger v. Air Evac EMS, Inc.

United States v. Cordova-Soto

Sutton v. Doe

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.