Date Decided: Mar 11th, 2011

Decided By: Kentucky Court of Appeals (State)

Court: Court of Appeals of Kentucky

Citation: 338 S.W.3d 818


Background:

Jeff Leighton ("Leighton") appeals a lower court's denial of
his motion for a new trial.

Leighton filed suit against his employer, CSX
Transportation, Inc. ("CSX") under the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq. for injuries he
sustained in the course of his employment. He sought damages for medical
expenses and lost employment benefits.

As a result of his injuries, Leighton incurred approximately
$11,000 in medical bills. CSX paid all but $3,000 Leighton's medical bills per
their obligation under The Railroad Employees National Health and Welfare Plan
("the Plan").

At trial, both parties filed motions in limine seeking to exclude evidence of medical expenses paid to
Leighton. Leighton wanted the trial court to exclude any evidence that he received
payments from insurers or other collateral sources (the $8,000 paid by CSX),
and CSX wanted to limit evidence of Leighton's medical expenses to those he
paid out-of-pocket (the remaining $3,000).

The trial court "struck a balance," ruling Leighton would be
able to offer his total medical expenses into evidence ($11,000), but that the
court would instruct the jury that Leighton could only be awarded $3,000 in medical
expenses (his out-of-pocket expenses).

The jury returned a verdict for Leighton, awarding $3,000 in
medical expenses and $5,200 in lost employment benefits. However, the Court
found Leighton partially at fault for his injuries and reduced the award to
$4,300.

Leighton filed a motion for a new trial arguing the jury
instruction limiting his award of medical expenses was in violation of the
collateral source rule under FELA. The trial court denied his motion and
Leighton appealed to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky.


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