PCCJR Update — November 1, 2019

Trial Bar Pours $ into Judicial Elections** PASC Strikes Down Key Medical Liability Reform ** Commonwealth Court Upholds Protz Fix

Trial Bar and Allies Pouring Money Into Judicial Elections

With less than a week to go until the November 5 elections for Pennsylvania Superior Court, a newspaper is reporting that the trial bar its allies are once again bestowing massive amounts of money on certain candidates, hoping to continue changing the Pennsylvania appellate courts.

The Morning Call reports that Superior Court candidate Daniel McCaffery’s campaign has received more than $500,000 from a Philadelphia trial lawyer’s PAC.

Judicial elections are notoriously quiet in PA thus allowing the trial bar to work beneath the radar funnelling money to their preferred candidates. Information about the candidates can also be hard to find. So, PCCJR created this voters’ education guide to help people learn more about the candidates. The guide, along with completed candidate questionnaires, zeros in on the issues and judicial philosophies of the candidates.

These elections will help shape the courts and future court decisions. Be informed! Share this voters’ education guide and encourage everyone you know to get out and vote!  

Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Medical Liability Reform Passed in 2002

This week saw the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Yanakos v. UPMC strike down a key reform from the MCARE Act of 2002. The MCARE Act was passed to protect doctors from being driven out of business by unscrupulous trial lawyers.

The act provided a “statute of repose” for medical liability suits.This week, a sharply divided Supreme Court struck down this portion of the act which prohibited medical liability suits from being brought after seven years from the date of the alleged injury.

The result of this opinion will be less certainty on the part of medical liability insurers and possibly higher premiums on health care providers as a result. Sky high premiums in the early 2000s necessitated passage of the package of liability reforms known as the MCARE Act.

Another proposal before a rules committee of the Supreme Court would roll back the venue reforms enacted as the result of the MCARE Act. If this happens, expect to see more medical liability cases filed in Philadelphia as plaintiff lawyers venue shop for the most outrageous verdicts possible.  PCCJR continues to lead the opposition to elimination of this important venue rule protection for health care providers and their patients.

Commonwealth Court Upholds Protz Fix 

One year ago, PCCJR hailed the passage of Act 111, the legislative fix to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Protz vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. On October 11, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court held that the law was constitutional, rejecting a challenge by the AFL-CIO

You may recall that the Protz legislation was a fix to the Supreme Court’s ruling (Protz vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board) invalidating a provision in the 1996 Workers Compensation reforms that allowed employers to request an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) after an injured worker has been out of the workplace for 104 weeks. Act 111 was narrowly focused to address the Supreme Court’s decision, which did not find any constitutional problems with the IRE process itself, but disagreed with the method the Act provided for updating the standards for evaluating a workers’ degree of impairment.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s lawsuit challenged the legislature’s authority to rely on the American Medical Association’s (AMA) guidelines for the IRE examinations. All three judges on the court’s panel disagreed.

In the decision, Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer wrote that ‘‘the non-delegation doctrine does not prevent the General Assembly from adopting as its own a particular set of standards which already are in existence at the time of adoption.’”

Read more about the court case and decision here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *