Are you considering filing a lawsuit for medical malpractice?
On Monday, Oct. 30, a Kentucky judge struck down a recently enacted law that requires lawsuits for medical malpractice to be screened by a medical review panel before the case makes it to court.
Normally, a lawsuit begins by an attorney filing a complaint with a court. However, under the medical review panel law, an extra step was required. The case had to first be reviewed by a medical review panel that would opine on whether a breach of the duty of care occurred and whether the breach was a “substantial factor” in causing harm to the patient.
From the beginning, the law’s constitutionality was debated. Kentucky’s Constitution protects a person’s right to a trial by jury and opponents of the law said it infringed on this sacred right.
Judge Phillip Shepherd of the Franklin Circuit Judge settled the debate, for now, by ruling on Monday that the law was unconstitutional. Shepherd’s order said that the law restricted a person’s constitutional right to go proceed to court, seeking “remedy by due course of law”.
The decision dismissed the idea that the review panels would curb nonsensical lawsuits, calling them instead “unnecessary obstacles for all medical malpractice claimants”.
Governor Bevin’s administration plans to appeal Shepherd’s decision, so the debate on medical review panels is far from over.
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