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05/28/2024 10:53 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=37809
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: October 13, 2022 09:23 AM
From: Representative Torren C. Ecker
To: All House members
Subject: Medical Liability Venue
 
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has endangered the accessibility and stability of the health care Pennsylvanians rely on by its rescission of the medical liability venue rule.  The venue rule, established nearly 20 years ago, helped stabilize the medical liability crisis that gripped Pennsylvania in the early 2000s.

One of the root causes of the crisis was venue shopping plaintiffs’ attorneys who filed as many cases in Philadelphia and other counties known for unreasonable verdicts as possible, even though the county had no relationship to the alleged act of malpractice. The escalating verdicts and upward pressure on settlements resulted in skyrocketing liability premiums.  Physicians and hospitals were forced to curtail high risk services and close maternity wards, resulting in the inability of Pennsylvanians to access needed health care services. Pennsylvania’s medical schools educated numerous graduating physicians and medical professionals who took their training to other states with more reasonable liability climates.

The General Assembly has the power to correct this egregious act on the part of the Supreme Court and we must act now to protect health care for our constituents. Article V, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides for the right of the General Assembly to determine the jurisdiction of any court or justice of the peace…”.

Consistent with the authority granted in the Constitution, I am introducing legislation to establish subject matter jurisdiction over medical liability causes of action.  My legislation gives the court of common pleas of the county in which a medical liability cause of action arises the exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over that medical liability claim against a health care provider. 

The health care relied upon by our constituents is too important to leave in the hands of a court shielded from any meaningful recourse by the voters of the Commonwealth.  Such important matters of public policy belong in the policy making arm of state government, the General assembly, and subject to approval by the Governor. Let’s act now to protect our constituents from the damage to health care that independent actuarial studies have shown will be the result of the Supreme Court’s action.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation.