Nearly six months after the medical malpractice venue rule went into effect, the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform (PCCJR) has formally requested an immediate review by the state Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee on the impact of the rule change.
In two separate correspondences with the Committee, PCCJR highlighted data showing a sharp increase in the number of medical malpractice cases filed in Philadelphia’s notoriously verdict friendly Court of Common Pleas. In the first five months of 2023, 258 med mal cases have been filed in Philadelphia, compared to 275 total in all 2022.
To read PCCJR’s letter of May 24, 2023, click here.
To read PCCJR’s supplemental letter of June 9, 2023, click here.
By way of background, in August of 2022, the Supreme Court rescinded the medical malpractice venue rule, which limited where cases could be filed to only where the cause of action arose. Under the broader venue rule that went into effect on January 1, 2023, venue now also exists where the defendant has a business interest and/or where they can be served. This allows plaintiffs’ attorneys to forum shop for the best location to score a mega-verdict to the detriment of our health care system and our access to health care.
The data reviewed by PCCJR clearly demonstrates that this massive increase in Philadelphia medical liability case filings is being driven by cases that could not have been filed in Philadelphia a year ago because the cause of action arose outside of the city.
There is a direct connection between high jury verdicts and medical malpractice insurance premiums. Data has shown that medical liability costs have already increased as exposure to liability and damages have increased in high verdict areas like Philadelphia.
The new venue rule imposes a requirement on the Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee to review the impact of the venue rule change after two years. Due to the clear negative impact of the rule change effective January 1, 2023, PCCJR believes the Civil Procedural Rules Committee should take action now.
PCCJR will continue to monitor the impact of the Supreme Court’s broadening of the venue rule – including tracking the number of medical malpractice cases filed in Philadelphia – which is often ranked as one of the nation’s top “judicial hellholes” – and providing analysis of how those figures compare to previous years.