PA Supreme Court Ends Restrictive Venue Rule For Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

08.30.22

A 20-year rule implemented to prevent “venue shopping” and frivolous lawsuits has ended. The rule limited the venue a plaintiff could bring a suit to only the jurisdiction where the injury took place. Venue shopping is a strategy in which a plaintiffs’ attorney brings suit in a jurisdiction they predict will be most sympathetic to their client’s cause resulting in larger verdicts. The rule was implemented in a time where healthcare providers deemed Pennsylvania in crisis, as lawsuits were being brought in “plaintiff-friendly” courts which allegedly drove up the cost of malpractice insurance and doctors were leaving the state as a result.

Advocates for reversing the rule have noted that although the number medical malpractice suits has dropped since 2002, other intervening causes such as the Medical Care Accessibility and Reduction of Care Act (MCARE) may have played a role in the reduction. Although the rule has ended, Pennsylvania’s Civil Procedure Rules Committee says that other reforms such as requiring medical care providers to sign a “certificate of merit” supporting a lawsuit’s claim will remain in place to prevent frivolous suits.

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