PCCJR Update — June 7, 2019

Venue Hearing Set ** Do Judges have a “Gatekeeper” Role? ** Regulation Through Litigation ** In the News

Venue Hearing Slated for Late June

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) has informed PCCJR that a hearing on the impact of the proposed medical malpractice venue rule change will be held June 25 and possibly also June 26 in Harrisburg. The hearing is expected to start at 9 am each day in the state Capitol, hearing room 8E-B.

This hearing has not yet been publicly announced or advertised by the LBFC. If there are any changes, we will make you aware of them right away.

The LBFC is holding hearings pursuant to SR 20 that tasks the LBFC with issuing a report on the impact of the proposed venue rule change. The Supreme Court has agreed to delay any action on the proposal until the LBFC issues its report by January 1, 2020.

Do Judges Have a “Gatekeeper Role” Under the Frye Standard

What role can trial court judges play when evaluating expert testimony under the Frye standard? PCCJR and others are looking for a definitive answer to that question when the Supreme Court considers a trial court’s evaluation of an expert opinion in the case Walsh vs. BASF and whether the Superior Court went too far in holding that “trial courts are not permitted to act as ‘gatekeepers.’”

PCCJR joined The Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc., CropLife America, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, Chamber of Commerce of the United States, National Association of Manufacturers, American Tort Reform Association, Washington Legal Foundation, Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc., and NFIB Small Business Legal Center in filing an amicus brief that argues the Superior Court went against precedent when it “expressly denied that trial courts exercise any ‘proper role’ as gatekeepers when determining whether expert testimony is ‘generally accepted’ in the relevant scientific community. The brief is authored by James Beck, Senior Life Sciences Policy Analyst at Reed Smith in Philadelphia.

Along with the other parties, we believe the Superior Court’s narrow interpretation goes against Pennsylvania and national precedent. Read more in this article by the Pennsylvania Record.

“The Advocacy Group Within” Regulation Through Litigation

report released by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) exposes the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law and the U.S. Climate Alliance for the practice of paying their way into positions of policy influence in state governments. In essence, the organizations have established fellowships and programs to embed lawyers and staff members in state attorney’s general and governor’s offices.

PCCJR recently reported that the Pennsylvania Attorney General applied for legal fellows from the NYU School of Law’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, only to reverse course after Pennsylvania was accepted into the program. A review of the Attorney General’s application to the program and related documents does not definitively reveal the intended purpose for seeking legal fellows from this program.

The ATRA report shows how environmental advocacy groups are infiltrating government offices in order to achieve their public policy objectives. This is cause for concern considering the number of lawsuits that have been filed against energy companies seeking billions of dollars to reimburse costs that they attribute to global climate change. Find out more about this disturbing development and some possible solutions at AGSunshine.com

In the News:

Burden of… |Massive Roundup verdict, in wake of EPA ruling, shows how uncertainty and embarrassing emails can trump science | Legal NewsLine

The 29th charm | TCPA lawsuit leads to $33K verdict for serial plaintiff in Philadelphia | PennRecord


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