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Maillelle v. State (4/27/2012) ap-2354

Maillelle v. State (4/27/2012) ap-2354

                                               NOTICE
 

        The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the 

        Pacific Reporter.    Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal 

        errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts: 



                               303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska  99501
 

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                         E-mail:  corrections @ appellate.courts.state.ak.us
 



               IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA 



MAIDIE MAILLELLE, 			    )
					    )
                                            )                 Court of Appeals No. A-10682 
					    )
                                Appellant,  )               Trial Court No. 4AK-08-064 Cr 
					    )
                        v. 		    )
                                            )                       O    P  I  N  I  O  N 
					    )
STATE OF ALASKA,			    ) 
					    )
				   	    )
					    )
                                Appellee.   )                 No. 2354    -   April 27, 2012 



                Appeal from the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Bethel, 

                Leonard R. Devaney III, Judge. 



                Appearances:     Julia D. Moudy, Assistant Public Defender, and 

                Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant. 

                Terisia   K.   Chleborad,   Assistant   Attorney   General,   Office   of 

                Special    Prosecutions    and   Appeals,   Anchorage,     and  John   J. 

                Burns, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee. 



                Before:     Coats,   Chief   Judge,  and   Mannheimer      and  Bolger, 

                Judges. 



                MANNHEIMER, Judge. 



                Maidie Maillelle pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree assault for 



striking her 20-year-old daughter with a truck and injuring her severely. 



                Maillelle had consumed at least two bottles of vodka, and her daughter was 



standing in front of the truck to prevent Maillelle from driving.  Maillelle accelerated the 


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

vehicle toward her daughter, struck her, and dragged her underneath the truck for about 



50 feet. Maillelle then put the vehicle in reverse and ran over her daughter again.  At this 



point, Maillelle stopped, looked down at her daughter, and then drove away. 



                 Maillelle's daughter's medical expenses were paid by the State of Alaska's 



Medicaid program.         These expenses totaled slightly less than $102,000. 



                 At   Maillelle's   sentencing,   the   State   asked   the   superior   court   to   order 



Maillelle to pay restitution to the State, in reimbursement of this Medicaid assistance. 



Maillelle objected to the State's request; she argued that the State - i.e., the Medicaid 



program - was neither a "victim" nor a provider of medical care to the victim within the 



meaning of the restitution statute. 



                 The   superior   court   ruled   in   the   State's   favor   on   this   issue   and   ordered 



Maillelle to make the restitution.         Maillelle now appeals. 



                 The statute in question, AS 12.55.045(a), declares that, unless potential 



recipients of restitution decline their statutory right to repayment, the sentencing court 



shall order the defendant to pay restitution ... 



                 to the victim or other person injured by the offense, [or] to a 

                 public,   private,   or   private   nonprofit   organization   that   has 

                 provided or is or will be providing counseling, medical, or 

                 shelter services to the victim or other person injured by the 

                 offense, or as otherwise authorized by law. 



                 In this appeal, Maillelle relies on the clause, "including restitution to ... a 



public, private, or private nonprofit organization that has provided ... medical ... services 



to the victim".   Maillelle points out that the Medicaid program does not directly provide 



medical services to anyone. Rather, Medicaid is an insurance program. Focusing on this 



distinction, Maillelle argues that even though Medicaid reimbursed the medical facilities 



                                                   - 2 -                                               2354
 


----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

and medical personnel who provided medical services to her daughter, Medicaid did not 



itself provide these medical services. 



                 Maillelle concedes that if the hospital and the medics, doctors, nurses, and 



pharmacists      who    provided     care   to  her  daughter    had   sought   restitution    during    the 



sentencing proceedings, they would have been entitled to restitution under the statute. 



But according to Maillelle, Medicaid is not entitled to restitution under AS 12.55.045(a) 



-  because the statute only allows a court to order restitution to organizations "that 



[have]provided  ... medical ... services to the victim". 



                 Maillelle's argument is seemingly inconsistent with this Court's decision 



in Lonis v. State , 998 P.2d 441 (Alaska App. 2000).  In Lonis , we held that a sentencing 



court was authorized, pursuant to AS 12.55.045, to order a defendant to pay restitution 



to an insurance company that had compensated the victim for the losses attributable to 



the defendant's crime.  Id. at 447-48. 



                 We   gave   two   rationales   for   this   decision.    First,   we   noted   that   if   an 



insurance company suffered a loss as a result of the defendant's crime, the company 



itself would qualify for restitution because the company was a "victim or other person 

injured by the offense". 1       Second, we noted that even if the insurance company did not 



qualify as a "victim or other person injured by the offense", the sentencing court could 



have ordered the defendant to pay restitution directly to the victim - and, because the 



victim's loss had already been compensated by the insurance company, the insurance 

company       would    have    been   entitled   to  recoup    this   money    from   the  victim. 2    We 



    1   Lonis , 998 P.2d at 447-48. 



    2   Ibid. 



                                                   - 3 -                                                2354 


----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

concluded that a defendant has no standing to complain when, in this situation, a court 

orders the restitution to be paid directly to the victim's insurer. 3 



                 Maillelle   argues   that   our   decision   in  Lonis   does   not   apply   to   her   case 



because      Medicaid     assistance     is  different   from    the  insurance     offered    by   private 



companies.       Maillelle   points   out   that   a   person   must   enter   into   a   contract   with   an 



insurance company, but a person's entitlement to Medicaid benefits is   automatic - 



guaranteed by federal and state law.           Based on this distinction, Maillelle argues that an 



insurance      company      suffers   a  "loss"   when    it  pays  benefits    to  an  insured,    but  the 



government does not suffer a "loss" when the Medicaid program pays compensation to 



a medical provider, because Medicaid benefits are an entitlement. 



                 We find this argument unpersuasive. Medicaid is a form of insurance, even 



though the recipient of Medicaid benefits does not directly contract with the government 



for this insurance coverage.  Medicaid funds were used to pay for the medical treatment 



that Maillelle's daughter received.           And Maillelle does not dispute that her daughter 



needed this treatment as a result of Maillelle's criminal conduct.                    Thus, the State of 



Alaska (and the federal government, to the extent of its obligation to reimburse the State 



of Alaska for Medicaid expenses) have lost money as a result of Maillelle's crime.  We 



therefore conclude that the State is a "victim or other person injured by the offense" 



within the meaning of AS 12.55.045(a). 



                 We also note, as we did in Lonis , that Maillelle probably does not have 



standing to complain that the sentencing court ordered Maillelle to pay an uncontested 



amount of restitution to one person as opposed to another.                   As we explained earlier, 



Maillelle concedes that the sentencing court could properly have ordered her to pay the 



same     amount     of  restitution    to  the  hospital    and   the  medics,    doctors,    nurses,    and 



    3   Id. at 448. 



                                                   - 4 -                                                2354 


----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

pharmacists who provided her daughter's medical care.  But if the sentencing court had 



done   that,   the   Medicaid   program   would   be   entitled   to   recoup   this   money   from   the 



medical care providers.        Thus, as in Lonis , Maillelle would have no standing to object 



to the sentencing court's decision to order this same restitution paid directly to the State. 



                 Finally, Maillelle notes that, in a case similar to her own (an assault that 



required the victim to receive medical treatment), the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that 



it was improper to order the defendant to pay restitution to the Iowa Department of 



Human Services, the government agency that ended up paying for the victim's medical 



care.   State v. Stewart, 778 N.W.2d 62, 63-65 (Iowa App. 2009).                   Maillelle asks us to 



follow the reasoning of this Iowa case. 



                 But the Iowa restitution statute, Iowa Code  910.2, is drawn more narrowly 



than Alaska's restitution statute.  The Iowa statute authorizes a sentencing court to order 



restitution to a "victim", while our statute authorizes restitution to a "victim or other 



person   injured   by   the   offense".   Iowa   law   defines   a   "victim"   as   "a   person   who   has 



suffered pecuniary damages as a result of the offender's criminal activities".  Iowa Code 



 910.1(5).     But, according to the Stewart court, "pecuniary damages" are limited to 



damages   not   paid   by   an   insurer.   Stewart,   778   N.W.2d   at   63-64,   citing   Iowa   Code 



 910.1(3). 



                 Moreover, the Iowa court felt obliged to construe its   restitution statute 



narrowly.  Id. at 64.   The Alaska Legislature, on the other hand, has made it plain that it 



intends Alaska's statute to be construed broadly.   The statute itself declares that when a 



court determines the amount of restitution and the method of payment, "the court shall 



take into account ... (1) [the] public policy that favors requiring criminals to compensate 



for damages and injury to their victims; and (2) [the] financial burden placed on the 



victim and those who provide services to the victim and other persons injured by the 



offense as a result of the criminal conduct of the defendant." 



                                                   - 5 -                                              2354
 


----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

                 We further note that, the last time this Court interpreted the restitution 



statute narrowly, the legislature promptly responded by amending the statute to overturn 



our decision.     See Demers v. State , 42 P.3d 1, 2 (Alaska App. 2002), and SLA 2003, 



ch. 26,  1. 



                 For these reasons, we decline to follow the Iowa Court of Appeals' decision 



in Stewart. 



                 To conclude:   The State of Alaska, through its Medicaid program, paid for 



the medical services that Maillelle's daughter required as a result of Maillelle's criminal 



conduct.    The government of Alaska is therefore a "victim or other person injured by 



[Maillelle's]     offense".    Moreover,   Maillelle       has   no   standing    to  complain     that   the 



sentencing   court   ordered   her   to   pay   the   restitution   directly   to   the   State,   rather   than 



ordering her to pay the restitution to her medical care providers, who would then have 



to turn the money over to the State. 



                 The judgement of the superior court is AFFIRMED. 



                                                   - 6 -                                              2354
 

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