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Joseph X v. Liberty Mutual Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

February 1, 2018



          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on a motion by Defendant, Liberty Mutual Group, Inc., to exclude unauthenticated medical bills and summaries [DN 33]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 9, 2015, Plaintiff was injured in a car accident when the car in which he was riding was hit by another vehicle. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was the passenger in a vehicle that was insured under a policy of insurance issued by Defendant that contained underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Plaintiff was treated at Jewish Hospital with complaints of head, neck, and back pain. Plaintiff received PIP benefits paid by Defendant. Plaintiff settled his claim against the driver that caused the accident and his insurance company, Nationwide, for the policy limits of $25, 000. Plaintiff then made a demand for the underinsured motorist coverage “policy limits” against Defendant on February 16, 2016. After reviewing Plaintiff's medical records, Defendant denied the claim. As a result of the denial of the UIM benefits, Plaintiff filed the current action.


         Defendant moves to exclude from the trial of this case any unauthenticated medical bills and summaries. Defendant represents that Plaintiff's counsel may intend to offer a stack of medical bills and a summary, prepared by the attorney's office, purporting to be medical expenses that Plaintiff alleges to have incurred since the accident. Defendant maintains that no doctor or other qualified witness has given competent testimony indicating that the expenses set out on those documents were reasonable and necessary or that they were causally related to the subject accident. Defendant contends that no records custodian has been identified who may authenticate the documents, nor did Plaintiff produce certified medical bills or summaries during discovery. Further, Defendant requests the Court to prohibit Plaintiff from informing the jury of the amount of any medical expenses until the bills have been authenticated, that each of the expenses thereon were for medically necessary services, and that each of the expenses are causally related to the accident which is the subject of this accident.

         In response, Plaintiff argues that the Defendant attempts to improperly remove the burden placed on Defendant by statute and shift it to the Plaintiff. According to Plaintiff, KRS § 304.39-020(a) creates a presumption that produced medical bills are reasonable. The burden then shifts to the Defendant in order to rebut this presumption and avoid a possible directed verdict for the Plaintiff. Further, Plaintiff argues that there is no burden that Plaintiff must authenticate, show the medical expenses were medically necessary, and show that each expense was casually related to the subject collision before the expense may be presented to the jury.

         A. Authentication

         Any medical records sought to be introduced by the Plaintiff at the trial of this matter must be authenticated pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 901 or 902. Plaintiff has the burden to provide the authentication of the medical records consistent with the Federal Rules of Evidence. With respect to the medical bills, Plaintiff may authenticate the medical bills himself. Plaintiff may testify that he received medical treatment from a medical provider related to the injuries he allegedly sustained in the collision and he can submit the bill he received from that medical provider. Cervetto v. Powell, 2016 WL 9460456, at *5-6 (W.D. Ky. June 20, 2016); Osborne v. Pinsonneault, 2009 WL 1046008 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 20, 2009); Roach v. Hughes, 2016 WL 9460306, at *7 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 9, 2016).

         B. Medically Necessary and Casually Related Medical Expenses

         Defendant seeks to exclude from evidence any unauthenticated medical bills and summaries of medical expenses. Defendant argues that before showing or mentioning summaries or bills for medical expenses to the jury, the Plaintiff must present competent evidence that each of the expenses was medically necessary and were causally related to the subject accident.

         Relevant to this case is the definition of “medical expense” as described in KRS § 304.39-020(5)(a), which provides:

“Medical expense” means reasonable charges incurred for reasonably needed products, services, and accommodations, including those for medical care, physical rehabilitation, rehabilitative occupational training, licensed ambulance services, and other remedial treatment and care. “Medical expense” may include non-medical remedial treatment rendered in accordance with a recognized religious method of healing. The term includes a total charge not in excess of one thousand dollars ($1, 000) per person for expenses in any way related to funeral, cremation, and burial. It does not include that portion of a charge for a room in a hospital, clinic, convalescent or nursing home, or any other institution engaged in providing nursing care and related services, in excess of a reasonable and customary charge for semi-private accommodations, unless ...

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