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Florida Fourth DCA rules that trial court in personal injury action properly limited the plaintiff’s evidence of her past Medicare-covered medical expenses to the amount of bills actually paid by Medicare

On December 11, 2020, in Dial v. Calusa Palms Master Association, Inc., No. 2D18-4339, the Florida Second DCA ruled that the trial court in a personal injury action had properly limited the plaintiff’s evidence of her past medical expenses to the Medicare bills that were indisputably tendered and paid rather than the greater amount billed by the medical providers. The plaintiff claimed that the controlling precedent was Joerg v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 176 So. 3d 1247 (Fla. 2015), in which the Florida Supreme Court prohibited the introduction of evidence of Medicare benefits relating to the jury’s consideration of future medical expenses after determining that such the provision of such benefits was too speculative to calculate a damage award.  However, the Fourth DCA concluded that the Florida Supreme Court’s Joerg decision did not implicitly abrogate the Fourth DCA’s previous decision in Cooperative Leasing, Inc. v. Johnson, 872 So. 2d 956, 960 (Fla. 2d DCA 2004),  wherein it held that that the appropriate measure of compensatory damages for past medical expenses when a plaintiff has received Medicare benefits does not include the difference between the amount that the Medicare providers agreed to accept and the total amount of the plaintiff's medical bills, and that the trial court consequently should have granted the appellants' motion in limine and prohibited the plaintiff from introducing the full amount of her medical bills into evidence.  While ruling against the plaintiff based on the Cooperative Leasing precedent, the Fourth DCA certified the following question to the Florida Supreme Court as a question of great public importance: DOES THE HOLDING IN JOERG V. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO., 176 SO. 3D 1247 (FLA. 2015), PROHIBITING THE INTRODUCTION OF EVIDENCE OF MEDICARE BENEFITS IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE FOR PURPOSES OF A JURY'S CONSIDERATION OF FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES ALSO APPLY TO PAST MEDICAL EXPENSES?