On October 17, 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order rescinding Rule 1042.72 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. The now-rescinded rule previously provided malpractice defendants recourse to request that a trial court reduce — or remit — the amount of a jury’s verdict.
Think having to report settlements with Medicare beneficiaries was bad? Just wait for Rules coming that require consideration of Medicare’s interest in reimbursement of future medical expenses. CMS has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking soliciting comments on seven methods of ensuring protection of Medicare’s interest for current and prospective Medicare beneficiaries.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has amended the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure to specifically provide for the discovery of electronically stored information (ESI). The Rule amendments are effective August 1, 2012.
With its amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected the significantly more stringent standards developed in federal court. Although Pennsylvania will now specifically permit the discovery of ESI, the Rules Committee in its Explanatory Comment stated that this discovery — like all state court discovery — is subject to a proportionality standard.
The past two years have seen important changes in expert discovery in Pennsylvania state and federal courts. Two notable developments are the 2011 Pennsylvania Superior Court case of Barrick v. Holy Spirit Hospital and the amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 that were effective on December 1, 2010. Read more
On May 17, 2012 I’ll be presenting on the current status of expert discovery and expert retention at the Pennsylvania Defense Institute South Region regional CLE program. The program is being held at the Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pennsylvania and is followed by a reception. Registration details are available through the Pennsylvania Defense Institute.
Yesterday the Pennsylvania Senate voted to reform the Commonwealth’s joint and several liability rules. With the Senate’s vote and the Pennsylvania House’s earlier passage of a virtually identical measure, joint and several liability is on its deathbed in the Commonwealth.
Another bill has emerged in the Pennsylvania Senate with an alternative proposal to reform the joint and several liability rules in the Commonwealth. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, who previously introduced SB 500, introduced SB 1131 on June 13. The new measure appears to attempt a compromise between dueling proposals, which we have written about in the past.
SB 1131 would eliminate joint and several liability except where the defendant is found to be more than 60% responsible for the harm. This is identical to the proposal in SB 2.
However, SB 1131 incorporates notable exceptions to its abolition of joint and several liability. The bill would maintain joint and several liability in cases of economic damages and in cases where a minor’s interest is at stake.
This new proposal appears to reflect an attempt at compromise between outright elimination of joint and several liability and protection of injured parties. However, whether it is enough to clear what appears to be a legislative log jam remains to be seen. The Senate will likely vote today on final passage of SB 1131; whether any amendments will be offered and how the bill will fare in the House remain to be seen.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently released data for 2010 demonstrating a pattern of continual decline of medical professional liability filings. According to the Court’s statistics, there were 1,491 medical malpractices cases filed in the Commonwealth last year.
The Pennsylvania Legislature is still considering three bills to potentially modify the joint and several liability rules in the Commonwealth. However, does modifying these rules matter to physicians or other health care providers? Probably not.
We previously wrote about Pennsylvania’s consideration of HB 1, SB 2, and SB 500. Although HB 1 and SB 2 effectively end joint and several liability in the Commonwealth, SB 500 is ostensibly a compromise that in reality will effect limited change.
Various medical organizations in the Commonwealth support of HB 1 and SB 2.
On April 28, 2011 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously upheld the Commonwealth Court’s decision in Heim v. Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (MCARE), and clarified the payment obligations of MCARE. The Court ruled that MCARE must pay any part of a damage award that is not covered by a doctor’s private medical malpractice insurance. The MCARE Fund is the public insurance fund for medical malpractice coverage.