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 Spring 2003UVA Lawyer - Home
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Roger Creager '82 Played Central Role in Law Change


There are few things litigators prize more highly than the chance to make new law that benefits not only the litigants but a large number of similarly situated parties. Roger Creager '82, of the Virginia law firm of Marks & Harrison, PC, had exactly that type of opportunity recently and made the most of it. Creager played a central role in a four-year-long struggle which successfully defended Virginia's "Collateral Source Rule," which provides that a tortfeasor cannot use benefits which an injured person receives from collateral sources, such as health insurance, to reduce the compensation the tortfeasor owes to the injured person.

Beginning in 1996, defense lawyers in Virginia developed a new argument to challenge the application of the Collateral Source Rule to medical bills in tort actions. Virginia trial courts were initially receptive to the new argument, and limited the recoverable medical expenses accordingly.

The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association ("VTLA"), whose 2500-plus members primarily represent plaintiffs, formed a special committee to address the growing problem. Creager was in the vanguard of that legal fight, publishing three articles in Virginia legal journals which advanced the arguments and authorities in support of the plaintiff's position.

When the issue finally reached the Virginia Supreme Court, Creager co-authored the VTLA's amicus curiae brief which contended that the established principles of the Collateral Source Rule supported the rejection of the defense position. In Acuar v. Letourneau, 260 Va. 180, 531 S.E.2d 316 (2000), the Virginia Supreme Court agreed.

Plaintiff's lawyers across the state brainstormed, networked, shared ideas, e-mailed briefs, and faxed new trial court opinions. Creager says that the long struggle was well worth it, both because it protected the rights of injured people, and because it validated his belief formed in law school that lawyers who work hard together can make the law work, even for ordinary citizens, and even for those who are weak or injured. For his work on the "write-offs" issue, Creager received the VTLA's Courageous Advocate Award. It had been 17 years since the VTLA honored anyone with that award.

Creager serves on the Board of Governors of the VTLA. The President of the Virginia State Bar recently appointed Creager to serve on the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics, which issues published ethical opinions for the guidance of Virginia attorneys. This past summer, Creager was selected to join the Boyd-Graves Conference, a statewide group of Virginia attorneys and judges who consider and propose changes to Virginia law and procedure.

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