PA State Supreme Court Overturns Two Decade Old Malpractice Rule
The change announced last week in a highly anticipated decision by the PA Supreme Court would reverse a two-decade-old rule intended to prevent venue shopping for higher malpractice claims. The change is considered a win for trial lawyers and a setback for insurance and healthcare.
Some reading this may recall the highly controversial practice of filing medical malpractice claims in counties which were known to reward higher payouts to claimants prior to 2003. This meant an incident occurring in Armstrong County could be filed in Philadelphia County, where payouts are known to be higher and where in Armstrong County, or many other rural counties, payouts were lower. This was widely considered to be a significant cost driver in healthcare and insurance costs.
According to Court Statistics, linked HERE, there were 1144 medical malpractice verdicts in PA between 2000-03. In 2019, the number had diminished to 78 in 2019 and 27 in 2020.
Former State Legislator Curt Schroeder, Executive Director for Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, stated to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “venue-shopping was found to be one of the key causes … in the liability crisis that doctors and hospitals faced in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The danger here is that history will repeat itself.”
The Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry advocated to see this rule changed and we will continue to watch the impact of this action by the State Supreme Court.