December 9, 2019

December 06, 2019

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PA Supreme Court Rules Section of MCARE Act Unconstitutional

On October 31, 2019, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided Yanakos v. UPMC, et al. and declared the seven-year statute of repose under the Pennsylvania Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (“MCARE”) Act unconstitutional, creating uncertainty for health care providers and their insurers.  

The Plaintiff suffered from a genetic condition that required that she undergo a liver transplant. According to Plaintiff, her team of physicians breached the standard of care by providing her with a portion of her son’s liver that, unknown to the Plaintiff at the time of the procedure, contained the same genetic condition as the Plaintiff. She discovered the issue and filed a claim more than twelve years after the initial procedure. The trial court and Superior Court determined that the seven-year statute of repose under the MCARE Act barred the claim. 

The Supreme Court recognized that the important interest served by any statute of repose is to give insurers greater actuarial precision in setting their rates. The Supreme Court found that the statute of repose, as drafted, is not substantially related to serving that interest. The dispositive failure in the statute, according to the Court, was that the statute was not supported by statistics or analysis as to how the time period of the repose or the exceptions to the statute related to the effects on malpractice insurance costs. Accordingly, the Supreme Court declared the statute of repose unconstitutional and allowed the Plaintiff to proceed in her action twelve years beyond her initial alleged injury. 

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About this Author

Kristen Wilson, Steptoe Johnson Law Firm, Professional Liability Litigation Attorney
Of Counsel

Kristen Andrews Wilson practices in the firm’s litigation department, focusing on medical professional liability and long term care defense, as well as general and complex civil litigation and insurance defense. 

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Mitch Moore Insurance Attorney Steptoe Johnson
Associate

Mitch Moore thrives on hard work and is known by his colleagues and clients as an effective communicator and problem solver.  During college, he gained valuable leadership experience by serving as the Student Body President of a Division II university. In law school, Mitch took advantage of every opportunity to gain practical experience. He was on multiple mock trial and moot court teams and practiced law for a year under supervision in the WVU General Litigation Clinic. Mitch represents insurance companies and their insureds, including healthcare facilities, colleges, and universities.  Mitch’s approachability and focus on responsive client service endear him to his clients and colleagues.  

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