Frankfort judge strikes down law requiring medical review of malpractice lawsuits; Bevin to appeal

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A judge has ruled that a new law aimed at decreasing frivolous lawsuits and lowering malpractice insurance costs was unconstitutional, and he prohibited the state from enforcing it.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd

The Oct. 30 ruling by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said the 2017 law is unconstitutional because it restricts the right of people to plead their cases in court by requiring that the cases be reviewed by a medical panel before proceeding, Deborah Yetter reports for Courier Journal.

“The effect of the medical review panel process is not the reduction of frivolous negligence claims, but rather, the erection of barriers to the court system,” Shepherd’s order said. “Those that cannot afford the additional delays and costs should not be prevented from pursuing their constitutional right to a ‘remedy by due course of law.’ ”

The law, which took effect June 29, was touted as “the first step toward tort reform” by Gov. Matt Bevin when he signed it into law, Yetter reports. Bevin’s office said it will appeal the decision. “We are confident medical review panels are constitutional,” spokeswoman Amanda Stamper told Yetter.

Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, a lawyer who has strongly argued against the law, told Yetter he expects the ruling to stand, calling it a “clear barrier to access to the courts.”

From Kentucky Health News

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