A recent Appellate Court Decision from the Illinois Fourth District has cast doubt on the viability of a defense-friendly modification to the collateral source rule. In Miller v. Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, et al., 2016 IL App (4th) 150728, the Plaintiff was successful in his medical malpractice action, obtaining a jury verdict of $638,347.91, with $133,347.91 itemized for medical expenses. The defendants filed a post-judgment motion pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1205 seeking to reduce the jury’s verdict by $91,724.03, which represented the difference between the plaintiff’s medical bills and the amount Blue Cross and Medicare paid the healthcare providers. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion and reduced the judgment by the “write-off” amount of $91,724.03.
On appeal, the Fourth District Appellate Court reinstated the jury’s verdict without any reduction. The Fourth District Appellate Court determined that the “write-off” amount was not contemplated by the statute, which allows reduction of a jury verdict for benefits paid or payable to the plaintiff. The Court concluded that section 2-1205 does not allow a verdict to be reduced by the amount of the bills which have been satisfied or the value of the benefit to the plaintiff, but instead reduced only by the amount paid to the medical providers or payable to the plaintiff. The Court noted that the “write-off” amount medical providers deduct off the original bill is never paid by anyone, such that it is not “payable to the injured person” as contemplated by the statute.
The Fourth District Appellate Court’s opinion is directly at odds with the Second District Appellate Court’s 2013 opinion in Perkey v. Portes-Jarol, 2013 IL App (2d) 120470. In Perkey, the Second District reversed the trial court, finding that the defendant was entitled to a reduction of $175,000, which represented the difference between the jury’s verdict of $310,000 in medical expenses and the $135,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield requested in reimbursement. The Fourth District noted the Perkey decision but declined to follow it.
By deviating from the Second District on the application of section 2-1205 to the “write-off” portion of medical bills, it appears that the statute is ripe for review by the Supreme Court. The Fourth District’s holding in Miller is troublesome for medical malpractice defendants, who have come to rely on section 2-1205 to combat the collateral source rule.