SPINE SPECIALISTS OF MICHIGAN, P.C. and AMERICAN ANESTHESIA ASSOCIATES L.L.C., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.
Circuit Court LC No. 14-011030-NF
Before: Fort Hood, P.J., and Gleicher and O'Brien, JJ.
Garvin sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident and
received treatment from plaintiff Spine Specialists of
Michigan, P.C. Spine Specialists brought this action against
State Farm seeking payment for the care it provided to
Garvin. Dr. Louis Radden, a neurosurgeon, solely owns Spine
Specialists of Michigan, P.C. The issue presented is whether
State Farm must pay Dr. Radden an expert witness fee to take
Radden refused to be deposed unless State Farm paid him $5,
000 for three hours of testimony. When State Farm objected,
the circuit court lowered the fee to $1, 000 for the first 90
minutes of testimony and $1, 000 for each hour thereafter. We
granted State Farm's application for leave to appeal the
fee ruling, Spine Specialists of Mich, PC v State Farm
Mut Ins Co, unpublished order of the Court of Appeals,
November 25, 2015 (Docket No. 327997), and now reverse. Dr.
Radden is an employee of the plaintiff and is not entitled to
a fee for testifying on its behalf.
Radden treated Garvin with epidural and facet joint steroid
injections. Spine Specialists' complaint avers that State
Farm has unreasonably denied its claims for payment for these
medical services. State Farm's answer asserts that some
or all of Garvin's injuries may not have arisen from the
motor vehicle accident and that Spine Specialists'
services and charges may not have been reasonable or
Specialists filed a "preliminary witness list"
naming Dr. Radden as a witness. The list named another
physician, Dr. Scott Primack, as a "[p]otential
[e]xpert." Spine Specialists did not designate Dr.
Radden as an expert witness. State Farm's witness list
likewise identified Dr. Radden as an ordinary witness. Spine
Specialists later filed an "amended . . . preliminary
witness list" again naming Dr. Radden as a witness, but
not an expert.
Farm scheduled Dr. Radden's discovery deposition. Spine
Specialists announced that Dr. Radden required a fee of $5,
000 for three hours of testimony and preemptively filed a
"motion to enforce Dr. Louis Radden's expert witness
fee." The motion asserted that "Dr. Radden, in
anticipation that he will be asked his medical opinion
regarding the treatments rendered, requested an expert
witness fee to compensate him for his testimony." The
circuit court granted the motion, reasoning:
[T]he doctor in these no-fault cases, will take the position
eventually, why even treat a person who's involved in an
accident if I'm going to tie up a full day every time I
submit a Record for payment to a carrier. Eventually, Doctors
may be reluctant to treat auto accident claimants for this
court ordered that State Farm pay Dr. Radden $1, 000 for the
first 1½ hours of the deposition and $250 for each 15
minutes thereafter. State Farm's motion for
reconsideration was denied.
review de novo a circuit court's construction and
application of the Michigan Court Rules. Dextrom v
Wexford Co, 287 Mich.App. 406, 416; 789 N.W.2d 211
(2010). We employ statutory construction principles when
interpreting court rules, applying the rule's plain and
unambiguous language as written. CAM Constr v Lake
Edgewood Condo Ass'n, 465 Mich. 549, 554; 640 N.W.2d