Matis Baum O’Connor Defends Against Further Expansion of Stale Claim Liability in PA Supreme Court Appeal
Pennsylvania healthcare providers need to know that there is an ongoing, sustained effort to chisel away at longstanding protections against stale claims. Matis Baum O’Connor has joined the fight to bring this to a stop.
Since the bipartisan passage of Pennsylvania’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act in 2002, Pennsylvania statutory law has been clear that medical malpractice claims must be filed within two years of the alleged negligence. Some exceptions to this rule account for circumstances where the patient’s family had not learned of the patient’s cause of death in time, but even then claims had to be filed within seven years.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that the seven-year limitation on stale claims was unconstitutional, leaving healthcare providers exposed to stale claims even after their documentation of the patient’s care might have been appropriately destroyed pursuant to records retention laws.
Currently before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is a case that would further erode stale claim protections. At issue is whether a patient’s family may sue beyond two years when they knew of the patient’s cause of death, but supposedly didn’t know which particular doctors might be at fault or perhaps how they might be at fault. The case raises the possibility of doctors facing new lawsuits from care provided ages ago, even if the medical records in question have been destroyed, even if the patient’s family knew the patient’s cause of death from the outset, and even where there was ample time for the patient’s family to investigate potential claims prior to the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations.
Given the alarming nature of the appeal, several national and state organizations retained Matis Baum O’Connor shareholder Michael K. Feeney, Esq., to represent them as Amicus Curiae and argue the case on behalf of physicians across the Commonwealth. These groups include the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, the American Medical Association, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians, and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A decision in the appeal is not expected until 2022.
At a time when healthcare providers are risking their lives for patients in the midst of a lengthy global pandemic, they should not have reasonable and longstanding liability protections stripped away. The attorneys of Matis Baum O’Connor specialize in medical malpractice defense with razor-sharp trial preparation, innovative strategies, sophisticated advocacy, and mastery of the courtroom.
Attorney Feeney, a shareholder at Matis Baum O’Connor, dedicates his practice exclusively to the defense of Pennsylvania’s healthcare providers and is an experienced amicus practitioner. His bio may be viewed here.