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Appellate Court Gives Personal Injury Plaintiffs A Choice Regarding Admission Of Low Medical Expenses In A Post-Tort Reform Era

The State Appellate Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently issued an opinion in Schieffer v. DeCleene, No. ED 105243 (Mo. E. Dist. November 14, 2017) which allows personal injury plaintiffs to keep the amount of their medical expenses from the jury by omitting any request for recovery of medical expenses from their petitions. This issue arises when the amount paid for the plaintiff's medical treatment is relatively small when compared to their alleged injury and treatment due to the medical provider's contractual rates with the plaintiff's health insurer or the involvement of Medicare or Medicaid.

Be Careful What You Ask For

On November 21, 2017, in an en banc decision, the Missouri Supreme Court once again discussed the scope of permissible medical records requests in personal injury actions. The rule for the proper scope of medical authorizations is that "defendants are not entitled to any and all medical records, but only those records that relate to the physical conditions at issue under the pleadings." Unless special circumstances are shown, the language of defendant's requested authorization should track plaintiff's allegations of injury in the complaint.

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