Friday, October 16, 2015
City’s Ordinance May Create Emergency Care Lien Exceeding Statutory Provisions—Court of Appeal
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The First District Court of Appeal has upheld a city’s $370,000 lien, based on emergency medical services it provided, against an accident victim’s $100,000 settlement of his personal injury claim.
Div. Three, in an opinion by Justice Peter J. Siggins, affirmed the trial court’s determination that a San Francisco ordinance granting a lien on patients’ settlements does not conflict with, and is not preempted by, state law. The opinion, filed Sept. 30. was certified for publication yesterday.
The plaintiff, Jagdishwar Chand, in seeking an order expunging the lien, pointed to the Hospital Lien Act, which permits a hospital to garner up to 50 percent of a patient’s recovery against a third party, and Government Code §23004.1, which provides for a lien against a “judgment” in favor of the patient. He insisted the San Francisco ordinance was inconsistent with those provisions.
Siggins said an ordinance contravenes a statute only where it is “inimical” to it, observing:
“There is no such conflict here. Both state statutes provide an optional, non-exclusive remedy by which public entities can obtain reimbursement for the costs of providing emergency medical care to those in need….There is no contradiction merely because the legislature has provided an alternative mechanism to serve the same purpose.
“Chand has not identified, and we have not discovered, any case law or statutory history that indicates the legislature intended that state law remedies would provide the exclusive means for local governments to obtain reimbursement for medical expenses incurred to treat those in need.”
Siggins found no merit in Chand’s contention that the wording of the statutes evidences the Legislature’s intent to preempt the field.
Preemption Not Inferable
The jurist wrote:
“He argues the ‘plain language’ of Government Code section 23004.1 demonstrates an intent to preempt the field by giving counties a right to lien recovery ‘in any case’ in which they are authorized or required by law to furnish medical care, and, similarly, that the Hospital Lien Act conveys the same preemptive effect by creating a medical reimbursement lien in favor of ‘Every’ municipal corporation or public entity that provides treatment to patients injured by third person tortfeasors. But nothing in those words demonstrates an express or implied intent to occupy the field and preclude local government from enacting additional measures that serve the same purpose as these provisions.”
The ordinance, Siggins said, “simply places an additional arrow in the City’s reimbursement quiver.”
The case is Chand v. Bolanos, A142384.
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