WA Supreme Court Dealt Blow to Tort Reform

Today the LRC issued a press release that discussed the results of the recent State Supreme Court decision, Putman v. Wenatchee Valley Medical Center. The decision effectively ends the certificate of merit statute.

The AIAWA is one of the founding members of the Liability Reform Coalition (LRC) and a longtime advocate for certificate of merit, which has been enacted in a dozen states.

What the certificate of merit does in the physician liability system is require a plaintiff to provide a qualified expert, at the time of filing a lawsuit. The expert must be willing to state there is a probability that the defendant's conduct did not meet the required standard of care.

The State Supreme Court tossed out the certificate of merit declaring it unconstitutional. It’s noteworthy that the trial court found not having a certificate of merit unconstitutional - the opposite ruling. The LRC writes, "In the 2006 legislative session, personal-injury lawyers and physicians negotiated several modest liability reform measures, one of which was the certificate of merit. Over the past three years these reforms have incrementally aided in the fight to end lawsuit abuse in the medical liability arena."

With the certificate of merit no longer required the door for frivolous law suits has been opened. The AIAWA was considering seeking a certificate of merit law for design lawsuits; this now seems like an impossibility. You can read the entire ruling by the court here.

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