Proposed Venue Rule Change

PROPOSED VENUE RULE CHANGE FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES IN PENNSYLVANIA

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee published a proposed rule change that would repeal the prohibition against ‘venue shopping’.

What does ‘venue shopping’ mean?

Attorneys are now prohibited from bringing an action against a health care provider in a different county than where the cause of action arose. In other words, bringing a case against a Lancaster County nursing home in a Philadelphia court is strictly forbidden. Repealing this rule would allow attorneys to drag long-term care facilities into a more appealing jurisdiction for plaintiffs.

How does this affect nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living residences?

By allowing venue in counties with little to no relation to the underlying cause of action, claimants could shop for verdict-friendly venues in which to file their suits.

As was the case before legislative steps were taken in 2002 to address the medical malpractice crisis, Pennsylvania’s legal climate will almost certainly be made worse for the long-term care sector.

We can expect higher medical liability insurance premiums, as well as access to care issues for potential residents.

Update

Implementation of the proposed rule by the Pa Supreme Court has been put on hold until the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee “conducts a study of the impact of venue for medical professional liability actions on access to medical care and maintenance of health care systems in this Commonwealth.” The study is expected to be completed by January 1, 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact Zach Shamberg, President and CEO at PHCA, at zshamberg@phca.org or 717-221-7925.

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The Law Office of Brian Scott Dietrich, P.C., has substantial experience in business, healthcare and elderlaw litigation matters throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York civil courts and Orphan's Court Division. The law firm's practice concentrates in representing assisted living facilities, hospital facilities, long term care nursing facilities as well as, medical practices involving benefit disputes; contracts; employment matters; Department of Public Welfare Medicaid matters; insurance matters; litigation defense and plaintiff matters.

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