Court upholds providers' jury verdict for cost of medical care under no fault, where billing expert not disclosed timely
The Surgical Institute of Michigan [SIM] was forced to sue State Farm when the insurer refused to pay for medical expenses incurred by one of State Farm's insureds. State Farm appealed after SIM won a jury verdict for $20,000.00. State Farm's attorneys argued that SIM should not have been allowed to present the testimony of a billing expert who wasn't properly and timely disclosed pursuant to the Court's Scheduling Order.
The higher court noted that the admission of an improperly disclosed witnesses' testimony is a matter for the discretion of the trial judge. The judge may admit the testimony if there is "good cause" which simply means a "valid" reason. The Court noted that the testimony was highly relevant to the jury's ultimate decision and that any prejudice to the defendant could be cured. The trial judge and appellate court concluded that the prejudice was, in fact, cured by the availability of cross examination to the adverse party, and by the crafting of a proper instruction explaining to the jury that the late disclosure was "somewhat disadvantageous and prejudicial." The high court held that it was not necessary to exclude the evidence or to instruct the jury on a presumption against accepting the testimony.