San Francisco business attorney David Newdorf helps obtain ruling from California Supreme Court that will save business and governments billions annually.

August 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Lawyers & The Law

SAN FRANCISCO (August 18, 2011 ) – The California Supreme Court ruled this week that court awards to accident victims for past medical expenses must be limited to the amounts actually paid and accepted as payment in full by medical care providers. The case pitted personal injury lawyers against doctors, hospitals, local government and insurers who urged the Court to adopt limits on court damage awards. The case is Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., S179115, decided on Aug. 18, 2011.

San Francisco business litigator David Newdorf represented the League of California Cities as a friend of the court, or amicus curiae, in the case. The Supreme Court cited Mr. Newdorf’s brief in rendering its decision.

Lawyers for accident victims had asked the Court to allow juries to award the full amount stated on doctor and hospital bills, even if the care provider accepted a reduced payment from insurance and neither the patient nor the insurance company was liable for higher billed amount. The doctors and hospitals would not be able to share in the increased recovery for medical expenses. The amount would be paid to the plaintiff and, under typical contingency fee agreements, shared with the plaintiff’s lawyer.

The higher medical expense awards would have added several billion dollars to court judgments annually, according to insurance industry estimates. California cities, which are often viewed as “deep pockets” by personal injury lawyers, would have faced higher tort payouts at a time when vital services are already being cut.

“Cities and businesses are interested in a tort system that fairly compensates injured persons while protecting taxpayers and citizens from undue expense,” Mr. Newdorf said. “The issues raised by this case have a significant effect on the ability of state and local government to provide vital services to all Californians.”

Founded in 1898, the League of California Cities is an association of 474 California cities dedicated to protecting and restoring local control to provide for the public health, safety, and welfare of their residents, and to enhance the quality of life for all Californians.

To read the Supreme Court decision or Mr. Newdorf’s amicus brief., visit

Mr. Newdorf has been litigating this issue on behalf of clients since 2001, when he was appellate counsel in one of the seminal cases on medical damages, Nishihama v. City and County of San Francisco (2001) 93 Cal. App. 4th 298. The California Supreme Court decision in Howell affirmed the earlier decision in Nishihama.

Mr. Newdorf is managing attorney of San Francisco-based Newdorf Legal, which represents individuals, businesses and public entities in trials and appeals. The firm’s practice areas include business disputes, business torts/interference with contract, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, investment disputes, real estate, commercial landlord-tenant cases, and municipal law. Mr. Newdorf worked previously as a trial lawyer and team leader in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office and was a litigation associate at a major international law firm. Mr. Newdorf was recently listed in the 2011 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, an honor reserved for 5 percent of the State’s lawyers based on nomination by fellow lawyers and evaluation of professional reputation and achievement.

For all of your litigation questions, contact Newdorf Legal, a San Francisco business litigation law firm.

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