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05/12/2021 08:40 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=35152
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 23, 2021 10:34 AM
From: Representative Donna Oberlander
To: All House members
Subject: Personal Jurisdiction in Medical Professional Liability Actions
 
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Pennsylvania experienced a medical liability crisis like no other in our history. Medical liability insurance premiums rose, hospital maternity units, emergency departments and trauma centers nearly shuttered and physicians retired early or left the Commonwealth. These are well documented facts.

A major driver of that crisis was venue shopping. In response, the General Assembly, Governor Mark Schweiker and the state Supreme Court resolved this vexing issue by enacting Act 127 of 2002 and adopting the current venue rules. These actions did more to stabilize the medical liability insurance market than any other action of the era.

For over a year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee is considering a proposed rule amendment that would reinstate venue shopping. A previous House Majority Policy Committee hearing on this issue showed that a return to a venue shopping rule will increase healthcare costs and likely plunge the Commonwealth back into a medical liability crisis. The General Assembly cannot allow this to occur.

To that end, I plan to introduce legislation that addresses the exercise of personal jurisdiction (i.e. the power of a court to determine whether it can exercise power over the defendant based on the defendant’s ties to the forum in which the court sits) in medical professional liability actions. Our state’s constitution vests jurisdiction determinations with the General Assembly, not the Court. By pursuing this constitutionally sound path, we can once and for all resolve jurisdiction in medical liability lawsuits and end venue shopping.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this vital legislation.