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A Kentucky Judge Strikes Down Medical Review Panels


A Kentucky judge has struck down Kentucky law requiring that a panel of doctors review all medical malpractice claims prior to trial on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional. This Medical Review Panel law both went into effect and was struck down in 2017.

On October 30, 2017 Judge Philip Shepherd, a Franklin Circuit Court Judge, said that the medical panel review board would not serve to reduce or eliminate frivolous lawsuits, but would be “the erection of barriers to the court system”. He went on to say that the review panel law “protects the economic interests of the health care industry at the expense of consumers, with no demonstrable benefit to the public at large.”

This decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by Tonya Claycomb on June 29, 2017 (the same day that the Review Panel Law went into effect). Tonya claimed that the new law denied her the right to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice in Jefferson Circuit Court. She claims her son, Ezra Claycomb, suffers from cerebral palsy as the result of birth-related injuries.

The law creating Medical Review Panels was sponsored by Kentucky state senator Ralph Alvarado, who is also a practicing doctor. The Republican-controlled state senate passed this legislation. A spokesperson for Republican Governor Matt Bevin stated that there will be an appeal to Judge Shepherd’s ruling.

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