Senate GOP: Supreme Court Agrees to Delay Action on Voiding Key Medical Malpractice Reform

Harrisburg – Senate Republican leaders said they appreciate the recent vote by the state Supreme Court to delay action on voiding a successful medical malpractice reform that has kept doctors’ offices open in Pennsylvania.

The court agreed to suspend work on rescinding the rule on “venue shopping” until a report is completed by the Legislative Finance and Budget Committee, a delay requested by the Senate when it passed Senate Resolution 20, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lisa Baker (R-20).

Letter from Supreme Court Counsel to Legislative Leaders

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) and Senator Baker issued the following statement:

“The state Supreme Court’s vote to direct its Civil Procedural Rules Committee to suspend work on the change-of-venue rule is a welcome development. The legislative and judicial branches previously acted together to solve the medical malpractice crisis, with the Legislature enacting a series of reforms in 2002 and the Supreme Court adopting its rule against venue shopping in 2003. In the same spirit of cooperation, we hope the comprehensive study to be conducted by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee will help inform all of us on whether changes to the venue rule are warranted.”

During the three years leading up to the 2003 reform, an average of 2,733 medical malpractice cases per year were filed in Pennsylvania, including 1,204 per year in Philadelphia. In 2003, after the change, the statewide total fell to 1,712, and the number filed in Philadelphia fell to 577.

Following the initial decline, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits continued to drop as a result of reform. In 2017, 1,449 medical malpractice lawsuits were filed in Pennsylvania, a decrease of 47 percent from before the reforms.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee is a bipartisan legislative policy agency made up of 12 members of the General Assembly. The LBFC is authorized to conduct a wide range of research activities on the operation and performance of state-funded programs and agencies.

Contact: Drew Crompton (717) 787-7084

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