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From the May 22, 2011, Tribune-Review
By Bobby Kerlik
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The number of medical malpractice cases filed against Pennsylvania doctors and hospitals dropped in 2010, the sixth consecutive annual decline.
"In reality, medical malpractice lawsuits are not as prolific as people think," Pittsburgh attorney George Kontos said. "Any good attorney is very cautious about taking a case. I probably reject about 90 percent of people that come to me."
In 2002 — the year malpractice lawsuits peaked at 2,904 — new rules designed to weed out frivolous lawsuits took effect, and experts credit those rules with the decline in lawsuits in the years that followed.
One requires plaintiffs to get another doctor in the same field to sign off on the claims, showing the suit had merit. Another requires malpractice claims to be filed in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred. That prevents lawyers from filing cases in counties where they believe juries will be more sympathetic, lawyers said.
Last year, 1,491 malpractice suits were filed, according to a report released last week by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
NOTICE: The Civil Trial Judges will NOT be hearing civil and orphans’ court motions on the following Fridays:
- Judge Gary P. Caruso: May 27, 2011; June 10, 2011; July 29, 2011
- Judge Richard E. McCormick, Jr.: June 24, 2011; August 12, 2011; August 19, 2011; September 16, 2011; September 23, 2011
- Judge Anthony G. Marsili: July 1, 2011; August 12, 2011
Counsel should make arrangements to present motions on prior or subsequent Fridays.
The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce the annual attorney registration can be completed online beginning Monday, May 2, 2011.
Attorneys will be able to register to be an e-filer using the court's automated online system. The online process also will allow a firm to register all its attorneys at one time and more efficiently than the previous paper-only method.
From the March 2011 Attorney E-Newsletter of The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Supreme Court Declares Two-Way Street for Attorney-Client Privilege
On February 23, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided an important issue of the law of attorney-client privilege in the case of Gillard v. AIG Insurance Company. The issue presented was whether the attorney-client privilege established in 42 Pa. C.S.A. §5928 applies to communications from attorney to client which are not derivative (i.e., which do not incorporate confidential communications from the client).
The case involved allegations of bad faith by the insurance company. In the course of discovery, the plaintiff sought production of all documents in the file of the law firm representing the defendant insurance company. In its response to the discovery, the defendant’s counsel redacted documents prepared by the law firm, asserting attorney-client privilege. The lower court ordered the redacted documents produced and the Superior Court affirmed, relying upon the holding in Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company v. Fleming, 924 A. 2d 1259 (Pa. Super. 2007) that the statutory attorney-client privilege applies only to communications from client to attorney.
From New York Magazine
Last fall, the blog Above the Law caught wind of a jokey stunt going on at the Yale Law School Library. In addition to checking out books, students at the top-ranked graduate school could also, it seemed, check out "Monty" (full name General Montgomery), a border terrier mix. The dog would be available to play with students for 30-minute intervals, according to the library catalogue listing. But shortly after ATL discovered this adorable opportunity, the school said that it was just a gag, and that you couldn't really check out the pooch.
And yet now, according to a memo to students, Monty is back in circulation.
From the Court Administrator's Office
ATTENTION FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS: The Parent Information Form for Custody cases is now available on the Westmoreland County Website (www.co.westmoreland.pa.us) under Forms, Court Administration (Custody). This form is required for all custody cases.
HARRISBURG, January 14, 2011—Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille has issued a call to the Commonwealth’s 70,000 attorneys to volunteer more of their time and money to help ensure Pennsylvanians with limited financial means receive needed civil legal representation.
Saying the Commonwealth is “dealing with a civil legal aid crisis,” the chief justice reminded Pennsylvania attorneys in a letter distributed through the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) of their professional obligation to support services to citizens of limited financial means —otherwise known as pro bono service.
New Law Changes Maryland District Court Procedures for Traffic Tickets: After January 1, Drivers Must Ask for Trial
(ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Dec. 1, 2010) When a new state law goes into effect on January 1, drivers who get a payable traffic ticket in Maryland will no longer be given an automatic trial date to appear in court. Instead, any driver wanting to go to trial to dispute a ticket will have to request a trial date from the District Court of Maryland.
From the November 2010 Attorney E-Newsletter of The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Can a lawyer ethically get access to an opposing party’s Facebook page? We previously reported on a Philadelphia Bar Association opinion concluding that a lawyer may not, personally or through an agent, seek to “friend” an opposing party or witness without revealing.
But is there another way? A Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas has held that a party may be compelled through the discovery process to provide an opponent with access to his Facebook and MySpace accounts. In a decision in the case of McMillen v. Hummingbird Speedway, Inc., handed down September 9, 2010, President Judge John Henry Foradora of the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County held that access to one’s social networking sites is not protected by any privilege, and that the plaintiff in a personal injury action could be compelled to reveal the usernames and passwords of his Facebook and MySpace accounts to counsel for the defendants (but not to the defendants themselves). The court looked closely at the privacy and disclosure policies of the sites in question, and concluded that users are on notice that information posted on them may be revealed to persons who have access to such information by process of law.
A New York trial court decision reached the same result by a very similar analysis.
It becomes increasingly obvious that lawyers should be counseling their clients on the use of Internet social media. More than ever, there are few secrets on the Internet.
From the Court Administrator's Office
ATTENTION COURT APPOINTED ATTORNEYS: Pursuant to the recently revised court appointed attorney guidelines, court appointed counsel is asked to submit Fee Petitions on a timely basis. Unless otherwise ordered, petitions for each case shall be submitted monthly for all capital cases, and quarterly for all other cases until representation is concluded. If you need a copy of the current guidelines, please contact the Court Administrator’s Office, Danielle Frye, at 724.830.3393.