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Sipler v. Trans Am Trucking, Inc.: Liability Medicare Set-Asides are not Required.

On, July 24, 2012, a U.S. District Judge sided with the plaintiff in a personal injury case, Sipler v. Trans Am Trucking, Inc., granting a motion to exclude Medicare Secondary Payer language added by the defendant without prior agreement, and enforce the settlement.  Trans Am Trucking wanted language added to the agreement that stated Jeffrey Sipler would not seek to have Medicare pay for his future injury related medical care, and that he would establish a Medicare Set-Aside.  The plaintiff objected and filed the motion with the court to enforce the settlement without it.

U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise, from the District of New Jersey, ruled in favor of the Plaintiff.  Judge Debevoise stating that according to the Medicare Secondary Payer Statue, the Plaintiff may not seek payments from Medicare to the extent they were provided for by his health insurance and/or his settlement.  However, “no federal law requires set-aside arrangements in personal injury settlements for future medical expenses”.  He went on to say that,  “to require personal injury settlements to specifically apportion future medical expenses would prove burdensome to the settlement process and, in turn, discourage personal injury settlements”.  He summarized, “the parties in this case need not include language in the settlement documents noting Mr. Sipler’s obligations to Medicare or fashion a Medicare set-aside for future medical expenses”.

It seems to me that the take-away from this ruling is that this judge was not going to force the parties to add language to a settlement agreement, absent prior agreement among the parties, especially when that language is not required by law.

To view the Sipler v. Trans Am Trucking ruling, click here.

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