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Supreme Court Gives Drug Research Green Light, but a Key Question Remains
Supreme Court Gives Drug Research Green Light, but a Key Question Remains"
The United States Supreme Court issued a decision on June 15, 2005, that clarified and gave a broad reading to a provision of the patent laws that protects researchers developing new drugs from charges of patent infringement.


Special Counsel Edward Black Quoted by The Hedge Fund Journal on 2006 Hedge Fund Regulations
Edward Black, special counsel in the Firm's Financial Services Practice, was quoted by The Hedge Fund Journal regarding 2006 hedge fund regulations by the FSA and the SEC (The Hedge Fund Year in Review: The Highs and Lows of 2006, December 2006).


MMM Client’s Transaction Wins Catalyst Deal of the Year Award
The sale of Employease, Inc. to Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NYSE:ADP) has won a 2006 Catalyst Award for Deal of the Year. The yearly Catalyst Awards honor leading Atlanta-area entrepreneurs and their companies.

The transaction was featured in the December Business to Business magazine. Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP partner Edward D. Hirsch and associate Scott Allen represented Norcross software-as-a-service provider Employease Inc. in the August sale of the company to ADP.

Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP, (www.mmmlaw.com) enjoys national prominence for its corporate finance, securities, litigation, technology, real estate and real estate capital markets, environmental, insurance and healthcare practices. The firm has offices in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Princeton.


Morris, Manning & Martin Law Firm Named “Best of Gwinnett”
Gwinnett magazine counts Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP among the best law firms in the county. The publication honored the firm by including it in the 2006 Best of Gwinnett issue in the “Best Law Firm” category.

The winners were chosen by the magazine’s readers. The editors note that the business honored range from “perennial favorites to those just beginning to generate a buzz.” In 2005, real estate law firm Patton & Fletcher, LLC was included in the Best of Gwinnett. This fall, the firm merged with Morris, Manning & Martin, which means it made the list two years in a row.

“It’s wonderful,” says real estate Partner Ginger Patton-Schmitt. “This is what happens when the best joins the best. It reinforces that the decision to merge was a good one.” In addition to its Buckhead headquarters, Morris, Manning & Martin has metro Atlanta offices in Duluth, Suwanee, the Northside area, Alpharetta, Cumming, Kennesaw and Woodstock. Its thriving real estate practice provides residential real estate services, land acquisition and development transactions; mixed-use developments; construction law; financial transactions and loan closings.


Significant Chage in Collateral Source Rule
The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled today that, in personal injury cases, a jury considering the reasonable value of a plaintiff's
medical treatment may hear evidence of both the amount originally billed by a medical care provider for treatment, and a lesser amount accepted by the care provider from an insurance company as full payment for the billed services. In its decision, written by Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, the Court affirmed a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeals, but disagreed with the portion of its holding that evidence of a "write-off" granted by a health care provider to a plaintiff's insurer was inadmissible at trial
under the "collateral source rule."

The collateral source rule is a common law doctrine recognized by Ohio courts since 1970. Under the rule, jurors in a personal injury case are not informed about any recovery made by the plaintiff from sources other than the person who caused a plaintiff's injury or loss (the tortfeasor), so that the tortfeasor does not benefit from the plaintiff's own efforts by having
his liability to the plaintiff reduced by any amount the plaintiff was able to recover from another source (such as the plaintiff's own insurance).

In this case, Caroline Robinson of Cincinnati suffered foot injuries in April 2001 when she stepped on to an uneven concrete footer in the driveway of her rental home. The footer was exposed by repair work the property owner, Helen Bates, had hired a contractor to perform. While the repair job was in progress, the contractor had left the footer exposed and had left debris laying in the driveway for several days. Robinson sued Bates to recover her damages, including the costs of her medical care.

At trial, Robinson's attorney attempted to introduce medical bills she had received from various health care providers totaling $1,919 as evidence of the "reasonable cost" of her medical treatment. The trial judge ruled that, because most of Robinson's medical bills had been paid by her own private insurance, and her health care providers had accepted lesser amounts from the insurer than they had initially billed Robinson, Robinson could not introduce the original, undiscounted medical bills as evidence of damages but rather could submit documentation only for the actual amounts her insurer had paid out to satisfy her obligations.

At the close of Robinson's evidence, attorneys for Bates moved for a directed verdict denying all of Robinson's damage claims. They argued that
the exposed concrete footer was an "open and obvious" hazard that Robinson knew was present, and cited prior Supreme Court decisions holding that a property owner owes no legal duty to protect guests from a hazard that is open and obvious. The trial court granted Bates' motion, and entered a directed verdict holding that Bates had no liability for Robinson's injury.

Robinson appealed both the trial court's refusal to admit evidence of her undiscounted medical bills and its directed verdict based on the open and obvious nature of the hazard. The 1st District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's rulings on both issues and remanded the case for a new trial. In ruling on the evidence of Robinson's medical costs, the 1st District held
that the providers' original medical bills should have been admitted as evidence of her reasonable costs of treatment, and held that the collateral
source rule barred the trial court from admitting evidence of any discounts or write-offs granted by those providers as a result of Robinson's own
insurance coverage. Bates appealed the 1st District's rulings to the Supreme Court.

Writing for the Court in today's decision, Justice Lanzinger noted that, after the date of Robinson's injury and complaint, the General Assembly enacted a specific statute, R.C. 2315.20, that now allows defendants in personal injury cases to introduce evidence at trial of "any amount payable as a benefit to the plaintiff" as a result of his or her injury. While
acknowledging that this statute limits the collateral source rule for claims arising after its effective date (April 7, 2005), Justice Lanzinger said Robinson's claim against Bates must be resolved under the law in effect at the time of her injury.

She wrote that: "Bates urges us to hold that a plaintiff should recover only the amount of medical expenses actually paid, while Robinson contends that under the collateral-source rule, a plaintiff should have been permitted to
introduce evidence of the original amount of billed medical expenses, regardless of what was actually paid. In deciding this issue, the court of appeals concluded that "the collateral-source rule applies to any written-off amount agreed to by a plaintiff's health-care provider and insurer. We disagree. The collateral-source rule does not apply to write-offs of expenses that are never paid. The collateral-source rule excludes only 'evidence of benefits paid by a collateral source.' Because no one pays the write-off, it cannot possibly constitute payment of any benefit
from a collateral source. Because no one pays the negotiated reduction,admitting evidence of write-offs does not violate the purpose behind the
collateral-source rule. The tortfeasor does not obtain a credit because of payments made by a third party on behalf of the plaintiff."

In light of widely divergent insurance plans, managed care contracts and other variables, Justice Lanzinger wrote that rather than identifying either the amount billed by medical providers or the discounted amount paid by an
insurer as a presumptive "reasonable value" of medical treatment, the Court believed a better approach was to allow juries to make that determination on a case-by-case basis. "The jury may decide that the reasonable value of medical care is the amount originally billed, the amount the medical provider accepted as payment, or some amount in between." Lanzinger wrote: "Any difference between the original amount of a medical bill and the amount accepted as the bill's full payment is not a "benefit" under the
collateral-source rule because it is not a payment, but both the original bill and the amount accepted are evidence relevant to the reasonable value of medical expenses."

With regard to the trial court's directed verdict holding that Bates owed no duty to protect Robinson from an "open and obvious hazard," the Court affirmed the 1st District's reversal and remand of the case for further proceedings. Justice Lanzinger noted that Bates had a statutory duty as a landlord to keep her rental property free of hazards, and said the trial
court erred in granting a directed verdict because the issue of whether leaving exposed footers and debris in the driveway violated that statutory duty was a question for a jury to decide.

Justice Lanzinger's decision was joined by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and Justices Alice Robie Resnick, Paul E. Pfeifer and Maureen O'Connor. Justice Terrence O'Donnell concurred in judgment only.

Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton entered a separate opinion concurring with the majority holding that trial courts may admit evidence of both the amount billed by medical providers and the amount actually paid by an insurer, but said she would limit a plaintiff's recovery for medical expenses to the amount actually paid for treatment or any additional amount for which the
plaintiff remains liable after insurance payments. She wrote that, in her view, the majority opinion "creates confusion" by failing to provide criteria or identify factors that trial courts should consider in determining whether to apply "the amount billed, the amount paid, or 'some amount in between'" as the reasonable value of the plaintiffs medical


Jackson Kelly Attorneys Miller and Rodecker Selected As Defense Research Institute (DRI) Young Lawyer Liaisons
Jackson Kelly PLLC Attorneys, Laurie Miller and Jessica Rodecker have been selected to serve as national Young Lawyer Liaisons to two Defense Research Institute (DRI) substantive law committees. A national organization with approximately 22,000 members from across the country, DRI is the preeminent continuing legal education organization for trial counsel, corporate counsel, and risk management professionals.

Miller and Rodecker served as vice liaisons to their prospective committees and have been officially promoted to liaison positions.

Miller will serve on the Drug & Medical Device Committee and Rodecker on the Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee. These positions require Miller and Rodecker to participate in planning seminars, publications and national steering committee activities for their respective committees. In addition, both Miller and Rodecker are active on the Defense Research Institute's Young Lawyers Committee, where Miller is currently the chair of the Membership subcommittee.

The Drug and Medical Device Committee is one of DRI's most active committees. Miller will participate in a full course of committee work, including Rx for the Defense, a publication by the Drug and Medical Device committee. As a Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee member, Rodecker joins the best and the brightest of the medical defense bar. The committee regularly addresses health care regulatory issues and issues particular to specialized litigation groups, such as pharmacy litigation and obstetrical medicine. The committee sponsors three seminars each year, including the Medical Liability and Health Care Law Seminar at which Rodecker will be a panel moderator in March, and the Complex Medicine seminar. The committee also authors the MedLaw Up+G803date.

Miller and Rodecker expressed excitement for the challenges and opportunities these new positions bring.


Deborah T. Poritz, Former Chief Justice Of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Joins Drinker Biddle
Deborah T. Poritz, who served 10 years as the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, today joins Drinker Biddle & Reath as Of Counsel to the firm. Poritz, who stepped down from the high court in October 2006, will concentrate her law practice in government and corporate investigations, mediation and arbitration, and appellate matters.

“It is an honor to have such a distinguished jurist join our firm,” said Jonathan Epstein, partner-in-charge of Drinker Biddle’s Princeton office. “Chief Justice Poritz was an innovative and outstanding leader of our court system, which enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the best in the country. She brings a unique perspective to the practice of law from her experience as a jurist, as Attorney General and as Governor’s Counsel, and that will benefit our clients. We are thrilled to have her at Drinker Biddle.”

The former Chief Justice is joining Drinker Biddle in part because of her long-standing relationships with members of the firm and because of the firm’s capacity to support a practice that will focus on corporate and government investigations along with mediation and arbitration. Poritz’s friends at Drinker Biddle include former colleague Ross A. Lewin, a litigator who joined the firm in September 2006. Lewin worked with Poritz while at the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, in Gov. Thomas H. Kean’s administration and in private practice.

“I’ve always had a great respect for the lawyers of Drinker Biddle, and I look forward to working with them,” said Poritz, who will practice mainly from the firm’s Princeton office while handling matters statewide and elsewhere.

Poritz’s arrival adds to Drinker Biddle’s White Collar Crime, Government Investigations and Corporate Compliance Practice Group, led by partner Charles S. Leeper in Washington, D.C. The group is looking forward to the former Chief Justice’s perspective from her years on the bench. Leeper, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Florham Park, N.J.-based partner Paul G. Nittoly, a former assistant prosecutor in Essex County, N.J., each have significant experience in defense of complex civil and criminal investigations and prosecutions, congressional inquiries, and other related proceedings.


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