PCCJR Update — April 12, 2019

Statute of Limitations * Workers Comp Judge Fired * Promoting Litigation Reform at PLC

PA House Votes to Reform Statutes of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Cases

this is a view in the State Capitol Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

This week the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation designed to provide a greater period of time to prosecute and bring civil actions against those perpetrating child sexual abuse.

H.B. 962 prospectively eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes. It will also allow future child abuse victims to file civil suits up to age 55.

H.B. 963 is a constitutional amendment that would open a two year window for child sex abuse victims to file a civil suit if the statute of limitations has already expired. A constitutional amendment must pass in two consecutive sessions of the legislature and be ratified by the voters.

H.B. 962, dealing with criminal statute of limitations, was amended by the House to condition it taking effect only when the Senate has passed H.B. 963 for the first time. This amendment is an attempt to prevent the Senate from passing the criminal limitations reform without addressing the two year window for civil claims.

Both bills now go to the Senate for consideration. It is uncertain whether the amendment linking the effective date of H.B. 962 to first passage of H.B. 963 will enhance the chances of the Senate passing a two year window for civil cases. The Senate did not consider House passed legislation during the previous session to provide for a civil suit statute oflimitations window.

Workers Comp Judge Fired After Complaints by Pond Lehocky

The politically influential law firm, Pond Lehocky Stern and Giordano, recently made headlines again, with questions surrounding the firm’s influence on the termination of a state workers compensation judge. The episode, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, raises concern “that law firms with political clout are able to exert undue influence over the court system where they practice, potentially causing a chilling effect among judges.”

At issue is the firing of Judge Andrea McCormick. While Judge McCormick was terminated for violating work related policies, her trouble began when Pond complained to the Deputy Secretary of Labor and Industry about Judge McCormick ruling against the firm, according to the Inquirer. Transcripts and exhibits related to hearings before the State Civil Service Commission tell the story of the investigation including an analysis of the firm’s cases before the judge, which concluded her rulings were essentially evenly split between claimants and employers.

You may recall that Pond Lehocky is the same firm that lobbied aggressively against Senate Bill 936, which was vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf. The bill would have created a prescription drug formulary in the Workers’ Compensation program and curbed abuses in the workers’ compensation system where lawyer-owned pharmacies filled prescriptions for overpriced compounded pain creams.  The veto also brought to light that a political action committee associated with the lawyer-owned pharmacies contributed over $1.1 million to his re-election efforts in 2017.

More about Pond Lehocky:

‘Talk about an unholy alliance’: Lawyers, doctors and pharmacies

Philly-area doctors, pharmacists named in $4.7 million pain cream lawsuit

PCCJR Promotes Litigation Reform at PLC

PCCJR had a busy weekend networking with elected officials, scholars, journalist and activists at the 2019 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (PLC) held outside of Harrisburg. The PLC is an opportunity to spread the message of the need for litigation reform to grassroots activists from across the state.

In the News:

Revealed — Sort of… | Pa. courts won’t turn over letter that sparked medical malpractice reform debate|

Penn Record Commentary | A Big Year (Already!) for the Dragonetti Act | The Legal Intelligencer

 

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