Monday, February 10, 2014

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upholds Prohibition Against 'Error in Judgment' Jury Instruction in Med Mal Cases

In its recent decision in the medical malpractice case of Passarello v. Grumbine, No. 15 and 16 WAP 2012 (Pa. Feb. 7, 2014)(Baer, Todd, Stevens, McCaffery, J.J.)(Maj. Op. by McCaffery, J.)(Castille, C.J., dissenting)(Saylor, J., concurring and dissenting)(Eakin, J., dissenting and joined by Castille, C.J.), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the Superior Court's prohibition against the use of the "error in judgment" jury instruction in medical malpractice cases.

The "error in judgment" jury instruction was previously utilized by trial court judges to advise jurors that physicians were not liable for their "errors in  judgment" when making medical decisions.

With its decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court supported the Superior Court's previous decision in Pringle v. Rappaport, 980 A.2d 159 (Pa. Super. 2009), that such a jury instruction should not be given because it wrongly suggested to jurors that a doctor is not liable for the negligent exercise of his or her judgment in a particular matter, which is the very essence of many medical malpractice actions.

Anyone wishing to review, Justice McCaffery's Majority Opinion in Passarello may click this LINK.

Chief Justice Castille's Dissenting Opinion may be viewed HERE.

Justice Saylor's Concurring and Dissenting Opinion may be read HERE.

Justice Eakin's Dissenting Opinion, which is joined by Chief Justice Castille, can be viewed HERE.

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