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Russum v. IPM Development Partnership LLC

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

July 15, 2015

DOROTHY M. RUSSUM, Plaintiff,
v.
IPM DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, and SILICATO COMMERCIAL REALTY, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendants.

Submitted: July 7, 2015

Upon Consideration of Defendants' Motion in Limine to Limit the Medical Expenses of Plaintiff GRANTED

William D. Fletcher, Jr., Esquire, Schmittinger & Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, Delaware for Plaintiff.

Christopher T. Logullo, Esquire, Chrissinger & Baumberger, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendants.

ORDER

Robert B. Young J.

SUMMARY

Dorothy Russum ("Plaintiff") alleges she was hurt, following a slip and fall incident on a ramp in front of a retail store in Dover, Delaware. The premises were leased from IPM Development Partnership, LLC ("Defendant IPM") and managed by Silicato Commercial Realty, Inc. ("Defendant Silicato, " and together with IPM, "Defendants").[1] Plaintiff retained the services of a certified engineering expert, who opined that the dangerous slope of the ramp caused Plaintiff to slip and fall. In addition, Plaintiff presents the expert report of her treating physician, who links the injuries sustained to the alleged incident on Defendants' premises. Thus far, Plaintiff's medical expenses have been covered by her insurer, Medicare.

By Order dated May 21, 2015, this Court stayed consideration of Defendants' motion in limine to limit Plaintiff's medical care damages to costs actually incurred by Medicare, rather than the full amount charged. The stay was ordered pending the Delaware Supreme Court's Stayton decision, [2] in which dispositive issues of first impression concerning the Defendants' motion were being considered. Chiefly, the question of whether the collateral source rule applies to Medicare write-offs was at issue. On June 12, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its Stayton ruling. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' previously stayed motion in limine.

FACTS AND PROCEDURES

On April 21, 2011, Plaintiff purportedly sustained injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident while on Defendants' business premises. On March 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants seeking damages. Among the damages sought are medical expenses, which have been covered by Plaintiff's insurer, Medicare.

Plaintiff's medical expert in this case is Dr. Richard P. DuShuttle ("Dr. DuShuttle"). Dr. DuShuttle has been Plaintiff's treating physician, following her alleged accident. Dr. DuShuttle prepared a report, dated November 20, 2014. In it, Dr. DuShuttle diagnoses Plaintiff with lumbosacral strain, sciatica, and lumber spine stenosis, all of which, he opines, was asymptomatic until aggravated by Plaintiff's purported fall. Dr. DuShuttle's report also concludes that Plaintiff is a candidate for surgery, and other continuing, future treatment to remedy her injuries.

On May 21, 2015, this Court stayed consideration of Defendants' motion in limine regarding healthcare expenses above the amounts actually paid by Medicare, pending the Delaware Supreme Court's decision in Stayton. Following the Supreme Court's decision in that case, this Court invited the parties to submit supplemental briefing concerning the previously stayed motion.

DISCUSSION

By its May 21, 2015 decision, this Court stayed consideration of Defendants' motion in limine concerning Plaintiff's medical expenses above that which were actually paid by, rather than charged to, Plaintiff's insurer, Medicare. By their motion, Defendants sought to limit the expense to only the amount paid, roughly $2, 400.00. At the time, pending before the Delaware Supreme Court was the Staytonv. Delaware Health Corp. case, which considered, as a matter of first impression, whether the collateral source rule was applicable to medical expenses that were written-off by Plaintiff's medical provider, as federally mandated by the Medicare program.[3] The Supreme Court found that the ...


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