Court Discusses Limits of Voir Dire and Reaffirms Collateral Source Rule

In the important new case of Khoury v. Seastrand, 132 Nev., Advance Opinion 52, filed (yesterday) on July 28, 2016, the Nevada Supreme Court held that attorneys can ask jurors questions concerning specific verdict amounts to determine potential bias or prejudice against returning large verdicts. The Court stated that the inability of a juror to apply the law and the instructions of the court displays bias.

Also, the Court held that in determining whether a juror should be dismissed for cause (in voir dire), a juror’s statements must be taken as a whole.

The Court also discussed other issues that routinely come up in injury litigation. For instance, the Court discussed whether treating doctors must conform to expert report requirements. The Court reinforced the long-held view that while a treating doctor is exempt from the reporting requirement, this exemption only extends to opinions formed during the course of treatment.

A medical provider in this case sold a lien to a third party. Significantly, the Court upheld the concurring opinion in Tri-County Equip. & Leasing v. Klinke and asserted: “Here, assuming that Seastrand’s medical provider sold her liens to a third party for less than their face value, they are functionally similar to a write-down made to a third party insurer.” Therefore, the Court held that evidence of write-downs and the sale of medical liens was irrelevant to a jury’s determination of the reasonable value of medical services provided. The Court thus kept intact these crucial elements of the collateral source rule (evidence of the paid amount as opposed to the billed amount is inadmissible at trial; evidence that insurance paid part of a bill inadmissible; evidence that a provider "wrote down" fees inadmissible; evidence of the sale of a lien inadmissible).

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