Advocacy Update

Aug. 10, 2017: Judicial Advocacy Update


A recent ruling by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Shinal v. Toms could "have a far-reaching, negative impact" on physician practices, according to Justice Max Baer.

Standing for physicians

The AMA Litigation Center is the strongest voice for America's medical profession in legal proceedings across the country.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a 4–3 decision, ruled that, not only do surgeons have the duty to provide their patients with information about the alternatives, risks and benefits of a particular procedure in order to obtain informed consent; the surgeon has to be the person who delivers that information personally.

"The law simply does not support such a proposition," Baer wrote in the dissenting opinion, with two other judges—including Chief Justice Thomas Saylor—joining in.

Four other justices disagreed, however, and the case has been remanded back to a lower court for a new trial.

Read more at AMA Wire.

In a procedural decision that could keep so-called junk science out of the courtroom, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals adopted an evidentiary standard that places additional scrutiny on testimony from expert witnesses.

The case at the center of the ruling—Motorola v. Murray—raises the issue of whether cellphones cause brain cancer. In total, 29 cases on the subject matter were brought before the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

The court did acknowledge isolated strands of scientific data that suggest a possible causal connection between cellphone use and brain cancer. But the court ultimately ruled that based on the research to date, there was inadequate data for any scientist to opine on a causal connection between cellphone use and cancer to any degree of scientific certainty.

In spite of this, the plaintiffs offered their own expert testimony to the contrary, arguing that the jury should determine the validity of the testimony.

Read more at AMA Wire.