On Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, Kentucky Judge Phillip Shepherd of the Franklin Circuit struck down a law requiring medical malpractice lawsuits to be screened by a medical review panel before proceeding to court.
The law was a deviation from the standard process, in which a lawsuit begins with an attorney filing a complaint with a court. However, the medical review panel law required panels to evaluate potential claims and provide opinions on whether a breach of duty occurred and, if so, constituted a "substantial factor" in causing harm to the patient.
In his ruling, Judge Shepherd said the law restricted a person's constitutional right to proceed to court seeking "remedy by due course of law." The decision also dismissed the claim that review panels would curb frivolous lawsuits, calling them instead "unnecessary obstacles for all medical malpractice claimants."
Where the Issue Stands Today
Since the ruling in 2017, there have been several developments related to the issue of medical review panels in Kentucky.
In 2018, the Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the medical review panel law. In that case, the plaintiff argued that the law violated the right to a trial by jury and the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government. In 2019, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling that the law was unconstitutional.
As a result of these rulings, the medical review panel law is no longer in effect in Kentucky, and medical malpractice cases no longer have to go through a review panel before proceeding to court. However, there have been calls for the law to be reinstated, with some reasserting the claim that it was an essential safeguard against frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. Overall, the issue of medical review panels in Kentucky remains contentious.
Skilled Representation for Medical Malpractice Cases
If you suffered severe injuries and damages due to a Kentucky medical provider's negligence, our experienced attorneys can help you understand your rights and explore your options for compensation.