The Impact of the Howell Decision

The California Supreme Court recently significantly limited the ability of injured plaintiffs to receive the full measure of their damages by its ruling in Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc. (2011) 52 Cal. 4th 541.   The Supreme Court ruled in Howell that an injured plaintiff could only be compensated to the extent of medical expenses actually paid, rather than the amounts that were billed for the treatment of the plaintiff’s injuries.  The differential between the “billed” versus “paid” can be enormous, and leave a seriously injured person woefully under compensated.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is sponsoring Senate Bill 1528 to reverse the impact of the Supreme Court’s Howell decision.   Senator Steinberg’s bill would positively affect California’s budget, by insuring that the State’s Medi-Cal program is adequately reimbursed in tort cases for the cost of providing care to eligible beneficiaries.

Janssen Malloy LLP’s lawyers have seen first hand the impact of the Howell decision on the extent of damages that can be recovered for our clients.  Janssen Malloy LLP partner Patrik Griego serves on the Board of  Governors for Consumer Attorneys of California, which is also behind Senator Steinberg’s SB1528 bill to allow injured plaintiffs to present the full amount of their damages in the form of the billed amounts for their medical care.