Monday, December 28, 2015

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules on Propriety of Attorney's Fees in First Party Benefits Litigation Matters

Tort Talkers may recall that previous summaries of the various court decisions in the case of Doctor’s Choice Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, P.C. v. Travelers Personal Insurance Company, addressing attorney’s fees awarded in a first party benefits peer review process litigation, had been repeatedly reviewed here.

Update: In a December 21, 2015 decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court at 146 MAP 2014, the Court addressed the issue of the availability of attorney’s fee awards against insurance companies that have revoked peer review provisions of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.

By way of background, after a bench trial at the trial court level, the Court of Common Pleas entered a verdict in favor of the medical provider, which, initially included an award of attorney’s fees of approximately $39,000.00.  On a later motion, the trial court struck the award of attorney's fees in this context.

On appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the trial court's decision to strike the fee award.

In the latest decision in the case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has reversed the Superior Court. In so ruling, the Supreme Court noted that it "remains cognizant of the short comings of the peer-review regime." However, the court left changes to the peer review process to be considered by the Legislature and declined to deviate from the court’s conventional statutory interpretation of the peer review statute at issue.  

Anyone wishing to secure more detail on this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Tom McDonnell of the Pittsburgh law firm of Summers McDonnell for bringing this decision to my attention.

To review the Tort Talk blog posts on the Superior Court's earlier decision and the trial court's initial decision in this case, please go to Tort Talk at and type in "Doctor's Choice" in the Search Box in the upper right hand column of the blog.

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