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Post & Schell Decries “Real World Negative Consequences” of Proposed Changes to Malpractice Venue Rules in Formal Comments to Pennsylvania Supreme Court

February 21, 2019

Post & Schell, in consultation with and on behalf of the firm’s health care clients, has submitted formal comments and feedback to the Civil Procedural Rules Committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on the proposed amendment to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1006(a.1) (“the Rule”).

Currently, the Rule requires medical professional liability actions against health care providers to be brought only in the county where the cause of action occurred. If the proposed amendment were to go into effect, health care providers would be subject to the same venue rules as defendants in non-medical professional liability actions. This would essentially be a return to the venue rules as they existed prior to the passage of Pennsylvania’s tort reform statute, the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act, 40 P.S. §§ 1303.101, et seq., in 2002. For additional analysis, click here to read Post & Schell’s EFlash from January 14, 2019, “PA Supreme Court Proposes Changes to Malpractice Venue Rules.”

A. Bryan Tomlinson, an Associate in the Firm’s Professional Liability Department who oversaw Post & Schell’s formal response, noted that the proposed venue rule changes will have an adverse impact on both citizens and health care providers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He notes that Rule 1006(a.1) helped address a health care crisis in Pennsylvania that was caused in part by the “diminishing availability of medical malpractice insurance coverage” in the state. Amendments to the rule threaten to move the state backwards in terms of affordable malpractice insurance coverage for health care providers, which in turn will have a negative impact on Pennsylvania patients.

Mr. Tomlinson notes on the Firm’s formal letter:

“…the Committee is suddenly proposing a momentous change that will have ‘real world’ negative consequences for Pennsylvania citizens when there is no demonstrated need for such action. Perhaps most alarming, considering the reasons why Rule 1006(a.l) was enacted in the first place, is the casual manner in which the Committee suggests that the current rule ‘no longer appears warranted’ without any publicly available analysis to support this sweeping conclusion.”

The Pennsylvania Senate recently provided some much needed time to study the impact of the proposed amendment. On February 8, 2019 it passed a resolution by a vote of 31-18 that directs its Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct “a study of the impact of venue for medical professional liability actions on access to medical care and maintenance of health care systems in this Commonwealth” and assess “the effects of the 2003 changes governing venue in medical professional liability actions.”

The formal comments were submitted to the Committee on February 20, 2019. A PDF copy of the letter and comments can be viewed by clicking here.

If you have any questions about the proposed amendment to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1006(a.1) and/or its impact, please contact A. Bryan Tomlinson (btomlinson@postschell.com) or any attorney in Post & Schell’s Professional Liability Department.
 

Disclaimer: This post does not offer specific legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. You should not reach any legal conclusions based on the information contained in this post without first seeking the advice of counsel.