Supreme Court probes Kentucky's medical review panels


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The Kentucky Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday on legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly  that established rules on how to file malpractice lawsuits.


Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, who himself is a physician, required any lawsuit against doctors, other health care providers, hospitals and nursing homes would have to be reviewed by a committee of one attorney and three medical providers before it could proceed in court. The panel would have nine months to complete their work.

It was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin and, the day it took effect, a lawsuit was filed in Franklin Circuit Court by Breckenridge County resident Tonya Claycomb, whose son Ezra suffered brain damage when he was born in Jefferson County in 2014.

The Medical Review Panel Act, or MRP, was declared unconstitutional by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, in a 28-page ruling dated Oct. 30, 2017.

The judge found the legislation violated the equal protection guarantees of the Kentucky Constitution, the ban on special legislation and violating the separation of powers doctrine.

Much of the debate before the high court centered around whether the bill is special legislation, which is specifically banned by the Kentucky Constitution. 

“This is absolutely special legislation,” argued Guthrie True, attorney for the Claycombs.  “Section 59 was created as the result of an uprising by the citizenry over the legislature granting special privileges to corporations and railroad companies.  That’s the impetus behind the 1890 Constitution.”

He said the special legislation provision in the Constitution “was to restrain the General Assembly from to confer privileges on the few, to the detriment of the many.”

Matthew Kuhn of Bevin’s General Counsel’s office refuted that argument.  “This is not a statute that just covers Norton Healthcare, for example.  If it did that, that is classic special legislation (and) this singles out someone for special treatment.  This applies to every health care provider that the General Assembly can think of.”

True also argued it could take much longer than nine months for a medical review panel to issue their decisions since if another defendant is added to the case, the clock starts over.  “This is a modern-day Poll Tax,” he said, referring to the 24th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which banned the practice of voters having to pay when casting ballots.

“This is an attempt to obstruct the courthouse door,” he said.  “Especially for people of color and those less well-off.”

Kuhn said “500 cases have been filed to date, and all but two have been decided in less than nine months.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling within a few months.

Justices have two other high-profile cases they will be hearing later this week.  On Friday they will take up a case involving a Jefferson District Court race, where the apparent winner died the day after the May primary, as well as one involving the right to work law passed by the 2017 General Assembly.



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Adam L. Coleman

We are to believe that the issue and argument of the proposed and "for" KRS 216C is that this will save money. Statistics used in this argument are numbers used to compare life. Likewise the argument states that other states have enacted it so should we: The People Of Kentucky. Louisiana "MRP ACT" states that No Health Care Provider nor Health Care Facility to be liable in excess of ($100,000). Is that right? $100,000 not to exceed for a price on someones life! If the costs where associated with premiums which it wouldn't be effected either way, Assuming so if the Health Care entities and Providers are afraid of what they call a "Broken Legal System" then why De-Fund it; This is what would be done with damage caps asserted at $100,000 knowingly aware that Medical Experts, Funeral Costs, Loss of Loved Ones Income Compensation and Loved Ones Pain and Suffering would be minus the reasonable applicable attorney fee associated. That's A LOT more than $100,000.

In life this is but two things that come to all: "Life and Death"

We must not make exceptions where problems lye to create even more issues, this truly is not a "Matter of Law" but a matter of "Life and Death" rightfully determined in "Wrongful Death" and most severe "True" medical negligence of our medically frail loved ones.

The interest of cost is not the interest of "Life". It is the work solely due to those who go into the medical field and facilities sought upon rendered services.

Monday, August 13, 2018

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