May 16, 2007

Hurley McKenna & Mertz brief in Kunz v. Little Company of Mary Hospital

We have been getting numerous requests for our brief in the Kunz v. Little Company of Mary Hospital appeal. Click below to see our entire brief on the issue of the trial court's failure to allow the plaintiff's expert to testify on the issue of the reasonableness of the plaintiff's past and future medical bills. The case deals with several issues for trial practitioners, including the collateral source rule and its relationship to the severely reduced, negotiated billing rates paid by Medcare, Medicaid and third-party insurance companies; foundational objections to expert testimony; and the foundation necessary for paid and unpaid medical bills to be entered into evidence.

The opinion of the Illinois Appellate Court in Kunz v. Little Company of Mary Hospital can be found here.

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May 11, 2007

Hurley McKenna & Mertz wins medical malpractice decision regarding expert testimony and medical bills

Hurley McKenna & Mertz recently won a case in the Illinois Appellate Court, First District. This was a medical malpractice case brought on behalf of an elderly woman that was given too much of a dangerous antibiotic because of a nursing error. This antibiotic--gentamicin-- is known to cause kidney failure when given over long periods of time. Christopher T. Hurley and Mark R. McKenna tried the case to a jury in 2005 and were awarded $3.2 million for the loss of our client's kidney function. The appellate court upheld that verdict and further ruled that the trial judge should have allowed our expert to testify that the plaintiff's past and future medical expenses were customary, reasonable and necessary.

The trial court had ruled that the plaintiff's expert, a board-certified nephrologist and medical school professor, did not have enough experience as a billing person to testify about the plaintiff's bills. The appellate court disagreed, holding that the expert nephrologist's experience was greater than that of the average juror, and could have aided the jury in awarding the plaintiff damages for past and future medical expenses. The appellate court has ruled that the case should proceed for a new trial only on the issue of past and future medical expenses for the plaintiff, who will require dialysis for the rest of her life.

The issue of expert testimony regarding bills has become important in Illinois. Recent Illinois appellate and Illinois Supreme Court cases have suggested that when a government entity such as Medicare or Medicaid have paid only a negotiated, reduced portion of a plaintiff's medical bills, as is customary in a medical malpractice or personal injury case involving older or indigent individuals, the plaintiff must present expert testimony that the total bills are customary, reasonable and necessary.

The case was reported in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin by John Rooney on May 7, 2007. Click below to see the Law Bulletin story.

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