PCCJR Update — January 28, 2019

Fight Against Venue Rule Change Growing ** Trend Alert: State and Local Governments Recruited for Law Suits

Momentum Growing in Fight Against Medical Malpractice Venue Rule Change.

PCCJR has been working with and coordinating the efforts of our members and partners in the effort to defeat a proposal that would negate important medical malpractice venue reforms enacted in early 2003.

Click HERE to register your opposition to this rule which will be harmful to medicine and patient access to health care.

The deadline for comment is February 22. Act Now!!

Eliminating venue shopping, where plaintiffs’ attorneys file suit in locations known for generating large verdicts and high contingency fees, was an important reform and integral to resolving a crisis that saw high risk specialists fleeing Pennsylvania, family practices squeezed out of existence, and maternity wards close. However, plaintiffs’ lawyers have always opposed the 2003 venue rule requiring medical liability cases to be filed only in the county where the cause of action arises. The rule has prevented them from bringing cases in Philadelphia, the Number 6 Judicial Hellhole, and other high verdict counties to the detriment of medicine and the pecuniary benefit of law firms. The trial bar is behind this effort to roll back venue reform and return Pennsylvania to conditions that severely limited access to medical care.

The Civil Procedural Rules Committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court needs to hear from you! PCCJR has developed a quick and easy way for you to send your message of opposition to the committee considering this harmful proposal by clicking here.

The press is taking notice. Recent articles have appeared in: The Post GazetteThe InquirerDaily Local NewsPenn RecordPennsylvania Business Central with more expected this week from the Patriot News/Penn Live. Penn Live ran PCCJR’s op-ed which can be found here

Trend Alert: Private law firms recruit state and local governments for large lawsuits

From our friends at the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), a new report reveals the rapid growth of large firms representing state and municipal governments in cases involving opioids and climate change in recent years. It raises important issues regarding the hiring of outside counsel and the deep pockets of private attorneys.

The report points to several instances of well-known law firms driving more than 1,000 pending opioid lawsuits across the country and explores both the involvement of firms in state opioid and climate change litigation as well as the billions of dollars in contingency fees at stake. Also highlighted is the process by which state attorneys general, district attorneys, and other local officials select law firms to handle cases.  The report finds hiring often is motivated by significant campaign donations and political favors.

Also included in the report is a breakdown of the litigation targeting fossil fuel manufacturers for their alleged role in climate change. Many of these suits rely on the nebulous definition of what constitutes a “public nuisance” in hopes of obtaining sizable settlements before a case even reaches court. Similar to polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)- related cases, both types of lawsuits share the fundamental weakness in that neither seeks to compensate for significant health effects due to exposure.

To view the full report, visit AGSunshine.com.

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