Pa. medical malpractice case filings continue post-reform pace

Pittsburgh Business Times
http://www.bizjournals.com/

The number of medical malpractice case filings last year continued to decline in Pennsylvania, according to data released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The number of cases filed was down significantly from 2002, the year before the state Supreme Court instituted rules to prevent venue shopping for sympathetic juries and required lawyers to secure a certificate of merit for their cases, and the state legislature created a fund to help subsidize malpractice insurance as part of the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCare) Act.

There were 1,617 med mal cases filed statewide in 2007, compared to 1,693 in 2006 and 2,903 in 2002.

Statewide, the number of verdicts decreased to 185 from 229 in 2006 and 223 in 2005. The percentage of verdicts for the defense (82.7 percent) was similar to 2006 (83.4 percent). There were nine jury verdicts resulting in awards of $10 million or more between 2000 and 2003. In the past four years there have been five such jury verdicts — three in 2004, none in 2005, two in 2006 and one last year.

“The latest statistics provide additional evidence that the sharp drop in medical malpractice litigation, which began in 2003, was not a temporary correction, but a sustained response to the procedural rule changes adopted by the Supreme Court and the statutory changes enacted by the General Assembly,” Chief Justice Ronald Castille said. “Ongoing review and enhancements to our procedures will ensure that both plaintiffs and defendants can rely on an accessible court system where professional liability actions are impartially and promptly resolved.”

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