(A-5503-14) and Submitted (A-0727-15) April 27, 2017
appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division,
Camden County, Docket Nos. L-4310-13 and L-0536-14.
Vincent A. Campo argued the cause for appellant Joshua Haines
in A-5503-14 (Mr. Campo, on the brief).
Michael J. Marone argued the cause for respondents Jacob W.
Taft and Bonnie L. Taft in A-5503-14 (McElroy, Deutsch,
Mulvaney & Carpenter, L.L.P., attorneys; Mr. Marone, of
counsel and on the brief; Eric G. Siegel, on the brief).
Stryker argued the cause for amicus curiae Insurance Council
of New Jersey and The Property Casualty Insurers Association
of America (Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., attorneys, Ms.
Stryker, of counsel and on the brief).
Stephen J. Foley, Jr., argued the cause for amicus curiae,
The New Jersey Defense Association (Campbell, Foley, Delano
& Adams, LLC, attorneys, Mr. Foley, on the brief).
Petrillo & Goldberg, PC, attorneys for appellant Tuwona
Little in A-0727-15 (Jeffrey M. Thiel, on the brief).
McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, L.L.P., attorneys
for respondent Jayne Nishimura in A-0727-15 (Michael J.
Marone, of counsel and on the brief; Eric G. Siegel, on the
Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., attorneys for amicus curiae
Insurance Council of New Jersey and The Property Casualty
Insurers Association of America (Susan Stryker, of counsel
and on the brief).
Campbell, Foley, Delano & Adams LLC, attorneys for amicus
curiae, New Jersey Defense Association (Stephen J. Foley,
Jr., on the brief).
Judges Lihotz, O'Connor and Mawla.
back-to-back automobile negligence actions are addressed in a
single opinion because they share a common legal question. In
their respective actions, plaintiff Joshua L. Haines and
plaintiff Tuwona Little sought to recover medical expenses
that exceeded the $15, 000 personal injury protection (PIP)
limits provided in each plaintiff's automobile insurance
policy. The judges reviewing these matters each entered an
order barring the admission of these expenses; Haines and
Little now appeal from those respective orders.
Insurance Council of New Jersey, the Property Casualty
Insurers Association of America, and the New Jersey Defense
Association were granted amicus curiae status and filed
briefs advocating the position presented by defendants,
urging an insured may not recover such expenses from a
tortfeasor. Therefore, the question presented is whether
N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12 precludes the recovery of medical expenses
above those collectible or paid under an insured's PIP
provision in a standard automobile insurance policy,
including medical expenses exceeding any elected PIP option
allowed in a standard policy pursuant to N.J.S.A.
39:6A-4.3(e). For the reasons that follow, we conclude it
does not and reverse both orders.
complaint, Haines sought damages for the injuries he
sustained in an automobile accident he claims was caused by
the negligence of defendants Jacob W. Taft and John
McHenry.Defendant Bonnie L. Taft owned the car Taft
was driving. At the time of the accident, Haines lived
in his father's household and was covered under his
father's standard automobile insurance policy. That
policy was subject to the limitation on lawsuit threshold,
see N.J.S.A. 39:6A-8(a) and 8.1(a), and provided PIP
coverage of $15, 000, with a $2500 deductible.
Haines' father, the named insured, designated his health
insurance provider as the primary payer of PIP benefits,
see N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.3(d), Haines did not have
health insurance at the time of the accident. Under the terms
of the policy, Haines' lack of health insurance mandated
he pay a penalty of $750 in addition to the $2500 deductible.
The policy further provided he was responsible for a twenty
percent copayment for each medical bill incurred above the
deductible and penalty, which when aggregated was $3250, and
the sum of $5000.
result of the injuries he sustained, Haines incurred $43, 000
in medical bills, leaving $28, 000 in unreimbursed medical
expenses after the $15, 000 in PIP benefits was exhausted.
Before trial, Haines dismissed his claim for non-economic
damages, but sought to recover from Taft the $28, 000 in
uncompensated medical expenses. Thereafter, the court granted
defendant Taft's motion to bar Haines from introducing
into evidence the $28, 000 in medical bills not covered by
PIP benefits. While not entirely clear from the record, it
appears when the court granted Taft's motion, no other
issues remained and the complaint was dismissed.
complaint, Little alleged she suffered injuries in a car
accident she claimed was caused by defendant Jayne
Nishimura's negligence. At the time of the accident,
Little was also covered under a standard automobile insurance
policy. She had selected the limitation on lawsuit option and
a $15, 000 limit of her PIP benefits, with a $500 deductible.
The policy also provided she pay twenty percent of those
bills between the deductible amount and $5000.
time of trial, Little had incurred $25, 488 in medical
expenses, and sought to recover from Nishimura the $10, 488
in medical bills not satisfied by PIP benefits. Before trial,
the court granted Nishimura's motion to bar the admission
of any bill that exceeded the PIP limits in Little's
jury found Little did not vault the limitation on lawsuit
threshold, and a judgment was entered dismissing her
complaint. Although the jury found Little was not
entitled to non-economic damages, were it not for the trial
court's ruling, Little would have pursued her ...