SPLIT IN AUTHORITY OVER ADMISSIBILITY OF AFFIDAVITS ADDRESSING REASONABLE AND NECESSARY MEDICAL EXPENSES TO TAKE QUICKTRIP TO FIFTH CIRCUIT
Recently, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division analyzed a split in authority amongst federal district courts over whether Affidavits Concerning Authenticity of Medical Expenses Pursuant to Texas Civil Remedies and Practices Code § 18.001 and controverting affidavits, were admissible. In Chapman v. QuickTrip Corp., 2022 WL 4002904 (N.D. Tex. – Dallas Div., August 31, 2022), the court analyzed the Code provision, the deep divisions amongst federal courts as to whether the Code provision is procedural or substantive, potential conflict with the Federal Rules of Evidence, including Rule 702 addressing expert testimony and hearsay rules, and finding no conflict, the court conducted an Erie analysis to address the question applying Texas law.
The court observed how “Section 18.001 enables parties to prove up uncontested reasonable and necessary medical expenses at a significantly reduced time and costs. This is as it should be.” Accordingly, the found that “Section 18.001 is ‘bound up’ in state substantive rights such that it must apply in order to avoid the inequitable administration of laws. Such a conclusion is consistent with the Fifth Circuit’s categorization of other state laws governing damages as substantive.” Then addressing the timing and notice provisions of Section 18.001, the court refused to extend its holding and instead, found that the timing and deadlines and filing or controverting affidavits under Section 18.001 is procedural and governed by federal procedural law, the local rules and other court orders.
Lastly, the court noted that “federal district courts within this Circuit are very divided on this Section 18.001 affidavits issue. And resolving this issue would advance the ultimate termination of this litigation, as it would ‘eliminate complex issues so as to simplify the trial’ and ‘eliminate issues to make discovery easier and less costly.’” Accordingly, the court certified its Order for immediate interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).