The court should not interfere with the choice of medical attorney

If an appeals court decision is upheld, Pennsylvania doctors may find themselves in medical malpractice cases unable to hire the lawyer they want. do it for them.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2022 ruled that a law firm representing an anesthesiologist in a debt case arising from knee surgery could not also represented the physical surgeon who performed the operation in a matter taken by the patient’s lawyer.

Of the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies and the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) filed an amicus brief on the matter, Mertis v. Oh, which prompts the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear a case to appeal the decision. Doctors’ groups say the appeals decision sets a bad precedent, and limits doctors’ constitutional rights. c.

“It increases the power of doctors to have a lawyer they choose by their side when their lives and professional reputation are at risk,” said the brief. “The Court should allow the appeal to prevent widespread dissemination, which may affect the effects of the Supreme Court’s first decision.”

Find out more about the content of the AMA Litigation Center provides assistance and learn about the Litigation Center case selection guidelines.

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Pennsylvania patient Bobbi Ann Mertis filed a lawsuit against anesthetist Dong-Joon Oh, MD, after knee surgery. She did not name her surgeon, Eugene Kim, MD, in the lawsuit, but criticized his care in a court filing.

When the plaintiff asked Dr. Kim to give his statement, he asked a lawyer who previously appeared for him to be his lawyer. That lawyer is part of the company that represented Dr. Oh. Mertis asked the court not to allow the lawyer to represent Dr. Kim, arguing the court should “enforce the ‘purpose and spirit,’ or ‘spirit and policy'” of the Pennsylvania procedural discovery rule, Rule 4003.6.

The court said there was no reason why the law firm could not represent the two doctors; however, on appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with Mertis and ruled that the lawyer could not represent Dr. Kim. The statute was interpreted to require separate law firms to represent a physician who is not a party and a physician who is suing.

The AMA Litigation Center and the PAMED brief said that the decision did not use the text of the law to support its decision and that there is no other authority to support that statement. In addition, the brief states, courts must apply the statute’s clear interpretation “and by its plain, simple text, Rule 4003.6 does not prohibit the same attorney from providing a doctor-defendant and a doctor-are not parties to the same suit.”

“The rules of discovery are just that: rules about discovery in civil actions. They do not, by their terms, regulate the conduct of the attorney or when and how they can A lawyer can represent many customers in court,” the brief said.

The decision exemplifies “absurd results,” said the doctors in the court, noting that patients often refer to many doctors, even for simple medical care. They said the ruling would prevent the same attorney from representing two doctors.

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Beyond the legal reasons, the brief outlines five reasons why it is important for the court not to interfere with a physician’s choice of attorney:

  • Medical malpractice litigation is a specialized field with specialized laws and regulations, and specialized attorneys.
  • Pennsylvania law includes statutes that only enforce medical malpractice lawsuits, including Medical Injunctions and Diminishing Claims. disorder.
  • Doctors involved in lawsuits have a lot of trouble. Beyond the burden of litigation, a malpractice claim can raise a doctor’s insurance premiums.
  • Doctors are essential in providing care, often life-saving or life-saving, to people.
  • The way to become a doctor is an investment. It takes years of research and testing, followed by long hours of residency to pay students less than doctors and nurses.

According to the brief, malpractice allegations threaten a doctor’s investment “and expose doctors to embarrassment and lack of a life. “Physicians have a special right to fight hard against those claims. There are many reasons why doctors need a good lawyer, a lawyer who specializes in medical treatment, a lawyer they know and trust.”

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