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Hutchinson Hospital Corp. v. Neal

March 30, 2007

HUTCHINSON HOSPITAL CORPORATION, APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES E. NEAL, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Reno District Court; PATRICIA MACKE DICK, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. An appellate court will disregard statements in a party's brief for which there is no support in the record.

2. As a general rule, issues not raised before the trial court cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.

3. The provision in K.S.A. 61-3201(d) regarding the entry of judgment at the pretrial conference in a limited actions case is considered and discussed.

4. A hospital is entitled to recover from a patient the reasonable value of its services provided even though the parties have not reached an agreement on the specific price to be paid. If the contract between the parties for hospital services does not contain an explicit price term, the trial court is required to set a reasonable price based upon evidence before it.

5. The provisions of K.S.A. 61-2806, which call for the liberal construction of the statutes regulating limited actions in order "to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action or proceeding," do not obviate the right of the parties to a trial to resolve disputed material issues of fact; nor do they obviate the requirement in a contested case that the court's judgment have evidentiary support.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McANANY, J.

Reversed and remanded with directions.

Before McANANY, P.J., ELLIOTT and PIERRON, JJ.

Hutchinson Hospital Corporation (hospital) sued James E. Neal in a limited actions proceeding pursuant to Chapter 61 to collect unpaid medical bills. The district court entered judgment for the hospital at the pretrial conference and Neal appeals.

Neal apparently was an uninsured patient at the hospital. He claims on appeal that upon admission to the hospital he signed an agreement to pay the hospital's charges "in accordance with its regular rates and terms." He further claims the contract for medical services was otherwise silent as to the hospital's charges. Finding no support in the record for these statements, we disregard them. See Smith v. Printup, 254 Kan. 315, 353, 866 P.2d 985 (1993).

Examining the record before us, we see that in its petition the hospital asserted that Neal owed $23,938.53 plus prejudgment interest at the rate of 10% from September 17, 2004, but offered no basis for this calculation. Neal filed an answer in which he denied the hospital's claim. About 2 weeks later the district court conducted a pretrial conference pursuant to K.S.A. 61-3201.

At the pretrial conference, Neal stated that he intended to call no witnesses but planned to cross-examine the hospital's witnesses in order to prove the unreasonableness of the hospital's charges. The district court found this was not an adequate legal defense and entered judgment for the hospital pursuant to K.S.A. 61-3201(d). Neal appeals.

Neal's attorney claims he has since learned that the district court judge was a member of the hospital's board of directors at the time he entered the hospital for treatment. He argues ...


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