PA Supreme Court Rules Section of MCARE Act Unconstitutional

By: Kristen Andrews Wilson, R. Mitch Moore

Published: November 13, 2019

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.

If you have any questions about this new ruling or how it might affect your business, please contact the authors of this alert.

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