Medical Review Panels Declared Unconstitutional in Kentucky

November 20, 2018 | Crandall & Pera Law
Medical Review Panels Declared Unconstitutional in Kentucky

“All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial or delay.” – The Kentucky Constitution, Section 14 of the Bill of Rights.

“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” – The U.S. Constitution, Amendment VII.

The right to a fair trial by a jury of your peers is one of the bedrocks of our country. As attorneys, we have sworn to uphold these laws, and fight for these rights on behalf of our clients, and the civil justice system itself. That included fighting against medical malpractice review panels, ever since the idea first made its way into the Kentucky State Senate in 2009, and then later when the Kentucky General Assembly enacted it as the Medical Review Panel Act in 2016.

That is why we are thrilled to announce that on November 15, 2018, the Supreme Court of Kentucky sided on behalf of the state and federal Constitutions. In the Opinion written by Chief Justice Minton, the Court states “We hold that because the Act delays access to the courts of the Commonwealth for the adjudication of common-law claims. Chapter 216C violates Section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution.”

A waste of Kentuckians’ time and taxes

The Medical Review Panel Act forced victims of medical malpractice to submit their claims to a four-person panel, made up of 3 health care professionals (voting) and one lawyer (non-voting) who would then decide whether or not the claim had enough merit to move forward in court. A person could still file a lawsuit, but the panel’s findings would have been admissible in court.

As of September of this year, the panel had managed to review 58 of the 531 claims before it. Overall, 89% of all the claims before the panel had not yet been addressed.

These were costly and time-wasting delays, and for many patients, it only made things worse. Imagine if you had been attacked by a dog, and you had to bring your claim to a panel of people who were in the business of training dogs to attack strangers. Or if you had been robbed, and your jury was made up entirely of convicted robbers.

Asking victims of medical malpractice to submit their claims to doctors and health professionals, who may have known the medical facility or doctors named in the claim, is as already suspect. To then delay their claims unnecessarily, causing them to go further into medical debt, or to suffer needlessly for longer – that, to us, is both unjust and cruel.

We applaud this ruling handled down by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. The Kentucky lawmakers –­ both in the Assembly and the Governor – ­knew this was likely to be ruled unconstitutional, and they did it anyway. These panels cost every taxpayer in Kentucky money. They have done more harm than good, and striking down the law once and for all is a victory not only for victims of medical malpractice, but for the civil justice system itself.

At Crandall & Pera Law, we will always do what we must to protect our clients their rights. If you were the victim of medical malpractice in Kentucky or Ohio, we can help. Please call our law office at 877-686-8879, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced legal team.