Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you have been injured or lost a loved due to medical malpractice, Philadelphia is the most preferred place to be in Pennsylvania if you want to maximize the trial or settlement value of your case. In many medical malpractice and other personal injury cases, the plaintiff may be able to choose between several different counties or local jurisdictions in which file a lawsuit. This is often referred to as choice of venue. The jurisdiction where the actual injury or alleged malpractice occurred is always available as an appropriate venue for a lawsuit. But in most states defendants can also be sued in the county in their county of residence or any county where they conduct regular business.
In many states, there are certain counties or jurisdictions that are known to be more favorable to plaintiffs in medical malpractice and other lawsuits. This can be due to many factors including the social demographics of the local jury pool and structural or administrative biases in the local court system. In any event, experienced malpractice attorneys will always seek to file their cases in the most favorable venue available.Philadelphia as Venue of Choice for Malpractice Lawsuits
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ranks as one of the most plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions in the entire country. Philly is currently ranked #5 on the American Tort Reform Association's list of "Judicial Hellholes" which ranks the most favorable plaintiff jurisdictions in the country. This actually means that the juries are fair to victims and do not take as an article of faith that the doctor did the right thing or did what he said he did. That is a malpractice defense lawyer's idea of a hellhole. Philadelphia was previously ranked #1 on this list for 2 consecutive years (2010 - 2011).
Philadelphia's popularity as a jurisdiction for medical malpractice lawsuits was such that in 2002 almost half of ALL malpractice cases in the entire state of Pennsylvania were being filed in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas. This level of Philly venue shopping in medical malpractice cases was so significant that it was specifically addressed by the Pennsylvania legislature in Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE) of 2002. The MCARE act changed the venue rules and required all medical malpractice lawsuits to be filed in the jurisdiction where the malpractice took place. As a result of this rule, plaintiffs' medical malpractice lawyers often lost the option of filing in the city. The number of medical malpractice cases filed in Philly was cut in half and has remained at that level since.
Although the MCARE reforms limited the availability of Philadelphia County as a venue, Philly continues to be a very favorable place to litigate a medical malpractice case. Statistics compiled by the National Center for State Courts indicate that the win rate for medical malpractice plaintiffs is three times higher in Philadelphia than the rate of success for malpractice plaintiffs in Pittsburgh. The NCSC data also shows that medical malpractice defendants were four times more likely to appeal from a trial in Philly compared to other Pennsylvania Counties.
In a study a few years back, there were a total of 34 medical malpractice cases that went to trial in the areas just outside Philadelphia - Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Delaware County. This does not include the suburbs of Philly that are in New Jersey such as Camden and Burlington Counties. Out of these 34 medical malpractice cases tried outside Philadelphia only 2 resulted in verdicts for the plaintiff. This is incredible, right? This is a plaintiffs' malpractice win rate of only 6%.
In Montgomery County, the picture was even worse. All 19 medical malpractice trials ended with verdicts in favor of the defendants. By contrast, medical malpractice cases tried in Philadelphia County in 2012 had a plaintiff rate of 52% -- 8 times higher than outside of Philly. Over the last 10 years, the win rate for plaintiffs in medical malpractice trials is 5 times higher in Philadelphia County than compared to the rest of the state. The number of medical practice verdicts in excess of $1 million is also staggering in Philadelphia compared to the rest of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia makes up 11% of the total population of Pennsylvania but over the last 10 years nearly 70% of million dollar medical malpractice verdicts across the state have originated from Philadelphia County.
- Malpractice law in Pennsylvania
There a number of factors that combine to make Philadelphia so friendly to medical malpractice plaintiffs compared to other jurisdictions across Pennsylvania. First, the scheduling and administrative structure of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County move cases along much faster than other jurisdictions and the Judges are known for being more sympathetic to Plaintiffs. In addition to these judicial structural biases, the social composition of Philadelphia gives it a natural home court advantage for many personal injury plaintiffs. Philadelphia has a well-recognized reputation as a blue-collar, working-class town so it is no surprise that juries in Philly are 3 times more likely to find in favor of plaintiffs.Example Medical Malpractice Cases in Philadelphia
One way to better understand the nature of Philadelphia as a venue for medical malpractice cases is to look at the outcomes in some recent cases.
- Estate v. Willis Eye Hospital (2019): Hospital staff dilated eyes of 75-year-old wheelchair-bound man and discharged him before his vision returned. As a result, his wheelchair fell down concrete stairs on his way out of the hospital and he died from an anoxic brain injury related to the fall. The man’s surviving family alleged that the hospital staff discharged the man too soon and failed to help him get home safely. A Philadelphia jury awarded a $2,500,000 verdict.
- Estate v. Einstein Medical Center (2018): A 21-month-old girl died after suffering a hernia that strangled her small intestine. Her family alleged that the hospital staff failed to diagnose and treat an obstructed bowel. Following a two-week trial, the Philadelphia jury awarded $3,380,000.
- Lambert v. Kaplan et al. (2017): In this case, the plaintiff had a lap chole performed at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Following the surgery she complained to the doctors about severe pain radiating from her right shoulder. The doctors discharged plaintiff despite her complaints. Only 2 days after her discharge it was discovered that plaintiff had a bile leak and she died shortly thereafter as a result. The malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital doctors were negligent in failing to properly evaluate the plaintiff prior to discharging her from the hospital. A jury in Philadelphia County awarded $5 million to the estate of the deceased plaintiff.
- Kesicka v. Prager et al. (2017): The plaintiff sued a pair of radiologists and the hospital (St. Mary Medical Center) for failing to diagnose her breast cancer despite 2 separate mammograms that allegedly showed suspicious deposits. The jury in Philadelphia County found that the radiologists were negligent and that they acted as agents of the hospital. The jury awarded the plaintiff $3.3 million in damages.
- Wade v. Swanson (2016): In this case an infant died when excessive calcium was administered by doctors during a so-called Norwood procedure to correct a heart defect. Despite relatively strong defenses by the doctor the jury in Philadelphia County found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $1.3 million in damages.
- Durphy v. Forstater et al. (2016): In this case, the plaintiff had broken her leg during a skiing accident. A month after the broken leg she passed out and was taken to the emergency room at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. The emergency room doctor performed limited testing and discharged her with a benign diagnosis of gastroenteritis. A short time later the plaintiff suffered a pulmonary embolism and died. The malpractice action alleged that the emergency room doctor should have conducted a chest PE scan and other testing that would have revealed the life-threatening condition. The defendants contended that the plaintiff failed to follow up with her primary care doctor as instructed when she left the emergency room. The case was tried in Philadelphia County and the plaintiffs were awarded $7.7 million in damages split 50/50 between the hospital and the doctor.
- Tate v. Penn Univ. Hosp. et al. (2016) The plaintiff had surgery to remove a brain tumor. Following the surgery, she suffered an intracranial hemorrhage that left her paralyzed from the neck down. The plaintiff sued the hospitals and doctors alleging that they negligently continued her on blood thinning medication despite numerous indications that it was thinning her blood too much which ultimately led to her injury. The jury in Philadelphia found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $44.1 million in damages - one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts ever in Pennsylvania.
- S.T. Pro Ami, Tillery v. Children's Hosp. et al., (2015) Children's hospital doctors in this case were allegedly negligent in failing to diagnose a case of bacterial meningitis in an 11 month old patient. The defendants in this case strongly contested liability and argued that the appropriate standard of care was more than satisfied in their treatment of the patient. They also questioned whether the alleged injuries to the patient. The Philadelphia was apparently not persuaded and awarded plaintiffs $10 million in damages.
Our medical malpractice lawyers handle serious personal injury and wrongful death cases in the greater Philadelphia area. If you have been seriously injured in a motor by medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, call our lawyers at 800-553-8082 or free online consultation.