PAMED and AMA Argue for Physicians’ Right to Choose Counsel

Last Updated: May 11, 2023

Last week, PAMED filed its third amici curiae (friends of the court) brief in the Mertis v. Oh case. As with the previous briefs, the AMA joined in the filing. Dedicated readers of The Dose will recall that the Pa. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the Superior Court’s ruling in this case wherein that court interpreted a rule of civil procedure in a manner that significantly restricts a physicians’ ability to select counsel of their choosing while engaged in litigation.

As argued in the previous briefs filed at earlier stages of the litigation, PAMED and AMA again argue that the Supreme Court should reverse the Superior Court because: (1) the Superior Court infringed upon the Supreme Court’s rulemaking authority by wrongly interpreting a procedural rule promulgated by the Supreme Court; (2) the court’s ruling serves to unconstitutionally restrict a physician’s right to counsel when engaged in litigation; and (3) existing federal privacy protections obviate the need for the courts to interpret the rule in a manner that serves to disqualify counsel.

The case centers on the interpretation of Pa. Rule of Civil Procedure 4003.6. This rule covers the obtaining of discovery from a treating physician in a lawsuit. PAMED and the AMA argue that the rule is intended to help protect the physician-patient relationship, not restrict a physician’s choice of counsel.

The last briefs are due in early June and oral argument before the justices should occur later this year. The Supreme Court will likely issue its ruling on the case next year.

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