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House approves collateral source rule on civil cases

With no debate, the House on Monday approved a controversial tort reform bill that would require plaintiffs in civil action cases involving personal injury, wrongful death or destruction of property to disclose other benefits paid through their insurance.

Republican Rep. David Stevens of Sierra Vista introduced HB2239 to make sure that plaintiffs in civil cases aren’t collecting compensation from their insurance to cover their damages, then suing in order to make a profit.

The House approved the bill on a 33-25 vote, including three Republicans who sided with Democrats in opposing the bill. Last week, the bill went before the full House for debate, but was held from a voice vote after a hostile amendment proposed by Republican Rep. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix to also apply the collateral source rule to defendants was adopted by the full House.

Brophy McGee was one of the three Republicans to vote against the bill, but she did not offer the amendment again on Monday.

“I didn’t give up, I made my point,” she said before the vote, noting that the bill had the votes to pass and her amendment didn’t.

House Speaker Andy Tobin worked in the insurance industry and is a big proponent of the measure, and said it protects consumers.

“It’s all about money, and to me, it’s about who you get the money from,” he told the Arizona Capitol Times last week. “At the end of the day, it’s about protecting the consumer who’s writing a check for their healthcare and writing a check for their auto insurance because they’re trying to protect their family.”

The House approved a similar measure last year, only to have the bill die without a hearing in the Senate.

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