TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, April 18, 2008

PA: Med Mal Claims Remain Lower Post-Reform

In 2003, Pennsylvania, via both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the legislature, instituted several medical malpractice reforms.  The court prohibited venue shopping and required lawyers to file a certificate of merit for their cases.  The legislature created a fund to subsidize malpractice insurance.  Since those reforms, claims have dropped significantly.  There were 2,903 claims in 2002, as compared with only 1,693 in 2006 and 1,617 in 2007.  The Pittsburgh Business Times has the story.


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The verdict rates and payout distributions are here:

The number of weak cases persists, as evidenced by the verdicts favoring the defendant. This failure rate applies to every other stage of litigation. Cases that fail to reach discovery, then that end in no settlement discussion. This failure rate is a mass tort by the plaintiff bar and by the courts. Only a torts approach can end this high rate of filing weak cases.

The standard of due care is set by the criminal prosecution. The prosecution is younger, less experienced, has tiny research budgets, paid a tenth, but carries ten times the case. The burden of proof is much higher, beyond a reasonable doubt. The crimes have more elements. Intent must be proven for every element.

Yet verdicts or pleas favor the prosecution about 80% of the time, the reverse of the torts bar. That is legal malpractice, and represents a failure of gatekeeping by judges. The plaintiff lawyer of PA owe the doctors of PA about a $trillion. Because the results are the same for decades, there is scienter, and exemplary damages apply. To deter.

It is the weak case that upsets the defendant the most.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 18, 2008 12:19:42 PM

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