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The court then stated: There are various types of personal property liens; the one at issue in this case is a statutory nonpossessory lien. Mercy Hospital, supra, 15 Cal. The Mercy Hospital opinion then notes that the hospital lien is merely one tool the hospital may employ: Sections Mercy Hospital , supra , 15 Cal. The court states that the apparent purpose of former section As such, the lien is merely an incident of the underlying debt or obligation.
Lewis v. Booth 3 Cal. And while the statute creates a direct obligation of an insurer or tortfeasor who ignores its obligations under section The section We now turn to the passages relied upon by the Swanson opinion. For the proposition that stare decisis establishes that the hospital lien exists independently of any debt owed by the patient to the hospital, Swanson cites the following passage from Mercy Hospital : Whatever principles might generally apply to liens, former section The Legislature is, of course, free to define and limit such a lien, and has done so in this case.
The court was not referring to a legislative expansion of common law liens to make the hospital lien exist free from any underlying debt of the patient to the hospital. The second passage relied upon by Swanson , its quotation from page of the Mercy Hospital opinion, seems equally misplaced. Mercy Hospital , supra , 45 Cal. The full passage states: [ Cal. Sections The passage is immediately preceded by the following sentence: Here, of course, we address the parameters of a lien that compensates a hospital for providing medical services to an injured person by giving the hospital a direct right to a certain percentage of specific property Taking this entire passage in context, we cannot agree that it establishes that a statutory hospital lien is not a charge against the patient, as Swanson concludes.
See Swanson , supra, 97 Cal. Instead, Mercy Hospital recognizes that the hospital lien attaches to property that otherwise belongs to the patient. Compare Whiteside v. The passage from the bill analysis states that the bill to create section does not intend to limit hospital liens now available under Civil Code Section The statement in the committee analysis is the equivalent of obiter dicta in a judicial opinion: it is a statement made in passing, not purporting to decide the matter stated and not necessary to the holding of the opinion.
See Stockton Theaters Inc. Palermo 47 Cal. The statement does not cite authority for its claim and is irrelevant to the discussion of the actual purposes of the bill before the committee. Initial capitalization omitted. First, the phrase reasonable and necessary charges is not defined in the statute and, as far as we can discern, is not a phrase with a fixed usage in the law or in the medical services industry.
Blue Cross of California 87 Cal. The traditional formulation for the medical services provided by the hospital is that they were medically necessary or reasonable and necessary. State of California 15 Cal. In the ordinary use of language, charges that are usual and customary might well be synonymous with reasonable charges, but one might wonder about the use of necessary to further describe the reasonable charges.
See Eden Hospital Dist. In addition, the plain language of the hospital lien act, as respondent would read it, does not require the hospital to deduct from its lien amount any payments, partial or otherwise, it receives toward payment of the reasonable and necessary charges for services provided to the patient.
Thus, as stated by respondent in its trial brief in the court below: Under common law lien theory, a lien may only be levied as a means of securing an obligation or indebtedness; however, in this case, SJCH levied a statutory lien against a third party.
Italics added. Presumably, whether through an exegesis of reasonable or necessary, or both, respondent would contend that the statute impliedly limits it to a single payment for its full as-billed charges. The only limitation expressed in the hospital lien act is the 50 percent of net recovery limit contained in section Any other limitation must be introduced through statutory construction.
Take one or the other, or sue me. Does the hospital lien law, on its face, allow or disallow such a lien? Would such a lien comport with the purpose and history of the hospital lien act? Nor do we see any indication in the language, purpose, or history of the law [ Cal. In either case, we see nothing in the statute designed to relieve a hospital of its choice to provide services at a price below the usual and customary charges for such services.
It is of some interest, in this regard, to examine the language of the documents in the record in the present case. The contract between the hospital and CCN provides that the hospital agrees to provide services for the reimbursement amounts set forth in the contract. Reimbursement amounts is defined as payment in full to Contract Hospital for Inpatient and Outpatient Services provided to a Beneficiary pursuant to Payor Agreements While this contract does provide that it is not the intention of either CCN or Contract Hospital that [beneficiaries] occupy the position of intended third party beneficiaries of the obligations assumed by either party to this Contract, the contract also provides that Contract Hospital hereby specifically authorizes CCN to act in its behalf in contracting for the provision of Inpatient Services and Outpatient Services at the Reimbursement Amounts [ Cal.
That contract, which contains no similar exclusion of the insureds as third-party beneficiaries, states that the insurer agrees to reimburse Those Reimbursement Amounts include deductible and copayment amounts and shall constitute payment in full for Health Care Services CCN also provides a patient manual to insureds participating in the medical insurance program offered by the Beer Wholesalers Association.
That manual explains: CCN is a voluntary, optional program for you. Each time you need care, you decide whether to use a CCN preferred provider.
Some advantages of choosing CCN providers are that: [? You are not responsible to pay the difference between these amounts. Similarly, in its trial brief, respondent took the position that the lien procedure The first problem with both statements is that the pleadings do not disclose that appellant here pled and proved in an action against the tortfeasor that he had medical bills from this hospital in excess of the amounts paid by his medical insurer, nor that he prayed for duplicate recovery of what the [ Cal.
Because section Not decided in the trial court and unbriefed on this appeal is the issue of litigation immunity for the filing of notices of liens. See Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. At a minimum, however, the litigation privilege does not bar appellant from seeking declaratory relief, including declaratory relief construing the applicability of a statute in particular circumstances.
See Wilton v. Mountain Wood Homeowners Assn. City of Redondo Beach 49 Cal. On this appeal, we will not attempt to sort out the causes of action and types of relief to which appellant may be entitled. We hold only that, [ Cal. The judgment is reversed. The matter is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with the views expressed in this opinion. Appellant is awarded costs on appeal.
The court took the motion under submission and then, by stipulation, conducted a trial sitting without a jury, limited to liability and equitable issues. During the trial, the parties stipulated to various facts for purpose of the motion. Other evidence was received for purposes of the trial only. At the close of trial, the court took the matter under submission. The ensuing statement of decision determined only the motion for judgment on the pleadings, and the judgment as entered conformed to that ruling.
We recognize that at least two cases raising this issue are currently pending before the Supreme Court. See McMeans v. Scripps Health, Inc. Scripps Health , review granted Aug. A former collections supervisor for respondent testified that three or four years before trial, which was held in , respondent stopped filing balance-due liens against patients with Blue Cross medical insurance because there was an objection from Blue Cross based upon, I believe, the contract between that insurer and respondent.
It is not clear whether the parties considered this information as submitted in conjunction with the motion for judgment on the pleadings. See fn. Respondent apparently claims appellant has no enforceable right against it for services to be provided at the contract rate. The evidence admitted at trial see fn. In addition to his initial hospitalization, he had two subsequent neck surgeries. He was left permanently restricted from heavy lifting, which was a requirement of his previous employment.
Although it is not clear from the record whether the stipulation was for purposes of the motion or only for the trial, the parties stipulated that the damage[s] potential in the case was substantially in excess of policy limits. Parnell v. Fifth Dist. Superior Court of Kern County, No. Chapin, Judge. Opinion by Vartabedian, Acting P. Christie Clinic, P. Morley , supra , N. State Farm Ins. Indeed, nothing in either Insurance Code section Scripps Health 30 Cal.
Housing Authority Cal. CHIN, J. Bruce M. Barry S. Adventist Health. Docket No. Smiley v. Citibank South Dakota N. The following facts appear from the allegations of the complaint. Plaintiff Joel K. Parnell was injured in an automobile accident while a passenger in a taxicab. In accordance with the CCN and provider agreements, the Health Plan reimbursed the hospital in the amount specified in the provider agreement. Parnell also paid the hospital his required share of the deductibles and copayments.
In response, Parnell filed the instant action against the Community Hospital, alleging unfair business practices Bus. We begin by determining whether a lien asserted under the HLA requires the existence of an underlying debt owed by the patient to the hospital. Parnell contends the lien does and, absent such a debt, the hospital may not assert the lien.
Citing Swanson , supra , 97 Cal. As explained below, we agree with Parnell. Newton v. Clemons Cal. To assert the lien, the hospital need not provide notice of the lien to the injured person. Farmers Ins. Group of Companies 15 Cal. As such, to determine whether such a lien requires an underlying debt owed by the patient to the hospital, we first look to the statutory language for guidance.
See Wilcox v. Birtwhistle 21 Cal. Unfortunately, this language is less than clear. Rothwell 10 Cal. Booth 3 Cal. Sacred Heart Hosp. Under this construction, a lien under the HLA may not attach absent an underlying debt. See id. Other language in the HLA supports such a construction and suggests that a lien under the HLA requires an underlying debt owed by the patient to the hospital.
For example, the HLA does not give a hospital an independent cause of 8 action against the third party tortfeasor. Francis Hosp. The language of section See Nishihama v. On the other hand, the HLA does not distinguish between insured and uninsured patients. Moreover, several of its provisions are directed at the third party tortfeasor, not at the patient.
For example, the HLA requires the hospital to provide written notice of the lien to the tortfeasor, but not to the patient. If the tortfeasor fails to satisfy the lien before paying the patient, the HLA makes the tortfeasor—but not the patient—liable for the lien amount.
And the HLA exempts certain tortfeasors—but not patients—from its provisions. See Swanson , supra , 97 Cal. Because the statutory language is ambiguous, we look to the legislative history for guidance. See Wilcox , supra , 21 Cal.
This history strongly suggests that a lien under the HLA requires an underlying debt owed by the patient to the hospital. Pope to Governor Edmund Brown on Sen. Bill No. July 17, , p. The Legislature was therefore concerned with uninsured patients who failed to pay any part of their debt to the hospital and enacted the HLA to give hospitals the ability to collect on this debt.
As such, the Legislature presumably intended that the debt owed by the patient to the hospital be the underlying basis for any lien asserted under the HLA. The subsequent revisions to the HLA in do not compel a different conclusion. Thus, by expanding the HLA, the Legislature merely sought to enhance the ability of hospitals to collect on this debt.
It did not intend to alter the underlying basis for the lien—i. Chacon 16 Cal. In any event, we do not believe that the legislative history of section is helpful here. Enacted in Stats. Judiciary Com. The Community Hospital correctly notes that, in exempting liens asserted under the HLA from the scope of section , the Legislature was aware of Satsky v.
United States S. But the discussion of Satsky in the legislative history is hardly as conclusive as the Community Hospital suggests. On the one hand, the committee reports do suggest that California law is different from Satsky. See, e. On the other hand, the same reports state that the law surrounding such liens is still evolving and, in doing so, imply that California courts could still follow Satsky.
Given the equivocal nature of the legislative history of section , we decline to rely on it. Indeed, our construction of another lien statute analogous to the HLA prior to the enactment of section confirms that a lien under the HLA requires the 12 existence of an underlying debt owed by the patient to the hospital. Sweet 12 Cal. The basis for this conclusion was our finding that the lien claimant, the City and County of San Francisco County , and the patient had a creditor-debtor relationship.
See Sweet , supra , 12 Cal. Thus, by asserting the lien, the County merely sought to recover on the debt owed by the patient for medical services provided by the County.
Nichols Mont. Sweet , at p.
Apr 4, · Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Barry S. Landsberg and Joanna S. McCallum, Los Angeles, for Catholic Healthcare West, Scripps Health and the Regents of University of . Parnell received treatment for his injuries from defendant San Joaquin Community Hospital, which was owned and operated by defendant Adventist Health System/West (collectively, the Community Hospital). The Community Hospital was a preferred provider in CCN's network and had entered into a provider agreement with CCN (provider agreement). Apr 4, · At the time of the accident, Parnell had medical insurance through the Wholesale Beer Distributor Industry Trust Health Plan (the Health Plan). The Health Plan had contracted .