In re ESTATE OF SYLVIA MARLENE TOLBERT et al.
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Session October 3, 2017
from the Tennessee Claims Commission No. T20140069, T20140070
Robert N. Hibbett, Claims Commissioner
asserted monetary claims against the State of Tennessee for
personal injuries and property damage resulting from an
automobile accident with a state employee. The Tennessee
Claims Commission found the State liable and awarded
compensatory damages. On appeal, the State argues that the
Claims Commission erred in awarding damages for medical
expenses based on the claimants' unadjusted medical
bills. Upon review, we conclude that the collateral source
rule precludes introduction of evidence of insurance
adjustments to claimants' medical bills. Accordingly, we
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Tennessee
Claims Commission Affirmed
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Dawn
Jordan, Senior Deputy Attorney General, for the appellant,
State of Tennessee.
Phillip L. Davidson, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellees,
Sylvia Marlene Tolbert and Alvin Wayne Tindell.
Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Richard H. Dinkins and Kenny Armstrong, JJ., joined.
NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
relevant facts are undisputed. On June 27, 2013, an employee
of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, while driving a
state-owned vehicle, collided with the vehicle occupied by
Alvin Tindell and Sylvia Tolbert, causing personal injuries
and property damage. Both Mr. Tindell and Ms. Tolbert filed
claims against the State of Tennessee seeking compensation
under the Tennessee Claims Commission Act. See Tenn.
Code Ann. § 9-8-307(a)(1)(A) (Supp. 2017).
trial, the claimants filed a motion in limine to exclude any
evidence of amounts paid for their medical expenses by
collateral sources. In response, the State argued that the
amounts deducted from the claimants' medical bills as
insurance adjustments were not precluded by the collateral
source rule. Although the Claims Commission allowed the State
to introduce evidence of the adjustments, the Commission
withheld ruling on whether it would consider such evidence in
trial, the claimants produced their unadjusted medical bills
as evidence of the medical expenses they incurred as a result
of the accident. Ms. Tolbert presented medical bills totaling
$11, 118.78 while Mr. Tindell's medical bills were $250,
044.90. The claimants also submitted expert medical testimony
that their medical bills were reasonable and necessary. The
State, in turn, introduced two exhibits showing that, after
insurance adjustments, the claimants' medical bills were
reduced to $6, 644.36 and $58, 492.92, respectively.
Claims Commission ruled that the State was liable for the
accident and awarded damages based on the unadjusted medical
bills. The Commission held that the collateral source rule
precluded consideration of the adjusted medical bills and the
State had failed to rebut the claimants' evidence that