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Below you will find the course materials for the Certificate of Merit teleconference.  Please be sure to download, complete, and send in your Evaluation Form so that we may continue to provide quality seminars.

Click on the links below to be directed to specific topics on this web page,  or you may download the files at the bottom of the page for printable versions of each section.
Among the documents at the bottom of the page, you will find some additional information that is not among the information you can scroll through below.  Please take a few moments to review the file called "Recent Certificate of Merit Cases" - this information is different than the summary of recent decisions and provides complete information on each case.

AgendaEvaluationFaculty InformationLinks to Order and RuleSummary of Recent DecisionsDownloadable files



New Supreme Court Rule: Certificate of Merit

Thursday, December 18, 2022
12:00 p.m. -1:30 p.m.
No Substantive CLE Credits

  • The Basics:
    • Effective date (John P. Gismondi, Esq.)
    • Does it apply only to complaints?  (John P. Gismondi, Esq.)
    • Must be filed within 60 days?  (John P. Gismondi, Esq.)
    • Who signs the COM?  (Terry S. Hyman, Esq.)
    • What must the COM say? (Terry S. Hyman, Esq.)
    • Who is a medical provider? (Carol Nelson Shepherd, Esq.)
    • Informed Consent  (John P. Gismondi, Esq.)
  • Claims Against Hospitals
    • Vicarious liability claims (Terry S. Hyman, Esq.)
    • Corporate negligence theories (Carol Nelson Shepherd, Esq.)
  • Who is an Appropriate Expert? (Carol Nelson Shepherd, Esq.)
    • Incorporation of Section 502 of MCare
    • Is the common law still relevant?
  • Discovery Limitations - Only minimal discovery with no Certificate of Merit filed (Terry S. Hyman, Esq.)
  • Unknown Facts - The Dilemma: What Are Your Options? (John P. Gismondi, Esq.)
    • File a Writ and seek discovery
    • File a complaint and seek discovery & extension of time on COM
    • Obtain “qualified” COM
  • Causation
    • How specific must the COM be? (Carol Nelson Shepherd, Esq.)
    • When is the defendant entitled to see a COM? (Terry S. Hyman, Esq.)
  • The Non Pros (John P. Gismondi, Esq.)
    • Is notice required?
    • Standard to open judgment
    • COM filed on the 61st day, Non Pros filed on 62nd day: What result?

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Evaluation Form

Please use the following scale to rate the faculty. 
Please consider factors such as their knowledge of the subject matter, manner of presentation and general lecture content in selecting the appropriate score.

5 - Excellent
4 - Exceeded Expectations
3 - Met Expectations
2 - Needs Improvement
1 - Failed to Meet Expectations

__________  John P. Gismondi, Esq.
__________  Terry S. Hyman, Esq.
__________  Carol Nelson Shepherd, Esq.

Please provide your general comments about the teleconference:


What is your overall evaluation of the program as to:  

Overall Quality:                     5        4        3        2        1
Provided UsefulInformation:   5        4        3        2        1
Attendee Participation:           5        4        3        2        1

Audiobroadcast Comments:

Registering for the course was easy:                                                         yes     no
I received the instructions and phone number to call in a timely manner:     yes      no
I had access to the materials in a timely manner:                                      yes      no
I would participate in a PaTLA telephone seminar again:                             yes      no

Please provide any suggestions on how PaTLA can improve this process:



Please provide us with additional topics you would like to discuss on PaTLA’s nextteleconference:



Name (optional) ......................................................................................................................



Please fax evaluation to Jennifer DiMario, PaTLA:  215-546-5430.
Thank You

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Faculty Biographies

John P. Gismondi, Esq.
Gismondi & Associates, P.C.

After completing law school and serving a three-year term as a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Mr. Gismondi entered private practice in Pittsburgh. Since that time, he has chosen to limit his practice to only one area of the law - helping victims and their families in personal injury litigation. Attorney Gismondi has experience in handling all types of injury claims including those resulting from automobile accidents, medical malpractice, airplane accidents, consumer products, on-the-job incidents, and a variety of other circumstances. In a national rating of lawyers’ abilities, the nation’s oldest and most recognized reference source on lawyers, Martindale-Hubble, gives Mr. Gismondi an A/V rating. Attorney Gismondi has been chosen by his peers for many leadership positions in professional organizations. In 1995, he was selected as President of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. He is the Chairman of the Medical Malpractice Section of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. He is also an invited member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. Mr. Gismondi is one of the state’s best-known speakers at conferences and seminars designed to teach other lawyers about personal injury law. He has been invited to speak at over 100 such events throughout Pennsylvania. In addition to his full time practice of law, Mr. Gismondi serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh where he teaches Trial Advocacy. This course, which he conducts one evening a week, is designed to teach law students how to be effective courtroom attorneys.

Terry S. Hyman, Esq.
Angino & Rovner, P.C.

Terry Hyman is a senior member of Angino & Rovner, P.C. in Harrisburg PA.  He received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1968.  He received his J.D. from Dickinson School of Law in 1982, where he graduated cum laude and received both the Corpus Juries and Conrad Falvello Awards.  He also holds a Masters of Science Education from Temple University.  He has served on PaTLA’s Board of Governors for ten years, and has been Chairman of the Amicus Curae Committee for two terms.  He is the 2000 winner of PaTLA’s George F. Douglas Amicus Curae Award.  Most of his work is dedicated to Medical Malpractice and Product Liability cases.

Carol Nelson Shepherd, Esq.
Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter & Tanner

Ms. Shepherd is a partner in the law firm of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter & Tanner with offices in Philadelphia and New Jersey.  Her practice is limited to major civil litigation involving primarily medical negligence and related claims.  She graduated from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1978.  Since that time she has been a member of the Board of Governors of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Chair of its Professional Negligence Section, member of the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and served as its President in 1997-1998.  She has also served as President of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association.  She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association House of Delegates, was the chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Civil Litigation Section for 1995 - 1996, is a past member of the Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors, and was co-chair of the Women in the Progression Committee.  She was Chairperson of Hearing Committee 1.04 of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Law Project and the Homeless Advocacy Project.  She has written and lectured frequently for various trial lawyer associations regarding medical negligence and trial practice.

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Link to Certificate of Merit Act

Click HERE to open a new Web page displaying the New Certificate of Merit order

Click HERE to open a new Web page displaying the New Certificate of Merit rule

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Certificate of Merit Cases

1. Helfrick v. UPMC,   C.P. Allegheny Co. No. GD03-010082

     Opinions by J. Wettick holding:
     (1) If Defendant files non pros under Rule 1042.6 on 61st day.  Rule 237.1 requiring 10 day notice prior to non pros, and  237.3 allowing Plaintiff to open judgment automatically by filing petition 10 after non pros taken do not   apply to Certificate of Merit rules. 

     (2) If Plaintiff beats Defendant to Courthouse by filing COM after the 60th day, but before Defendant files non pros,  then non pros is invalid.

     (3) If  Stature of Limitations has not run, a case non prossed  for failing to file a Certificate of Merit, can be re-instituted in a separate suit making the same allegations, before the Statute expires as long as it complies with COM rules

2. Frunzi v. Muller M.D. C.P Phila. Co. March Term 2003 No. 4067

     Opinion by J. Bernstein;   No discovery of qualifications of the physician  providing  Certificate of Merit is permitted while case is still pending.

3. Herrmann, Exec. of  Estate of Tetrick v. Pristine Pines,  C.P. Allegheny  No.  GD03-6835

     Opinion byJ. Wettick:  Where Complaint does not allege “professional negligence” , defendant must file Preliminary Objection requiring Plaintiff to so allege, before filing a non pros for failure to file a COM within 60 days of filing the Complaint.

4. Budner v. Allegheny General,  C.P. Allegheny No: GD03-8160

     No opinion, but order denying Defendant POs.    Case involving ordinary premises liability claim (broken chair) is not “professional negligence” invoking COM rules, even if defendant is a hospital.


Expert Qualifications under M-Care Act, Sec. 512

1. Campbell v. Golden M.D.  C.P. Phila. Jan. 2000 Term No. 1857

     Opinion by J. Mazer Moss:  A psychiatrist is not qualified to testify to standard of care of a resident in internal medicine  using Ativan to treat pulmonary problems, rather than mental illness.

2. Callari v. Rossenwasser M.D.  C.P.. Phila. March 1999 No 1056

     Opinion by J. Tereshko: Excellent 14 page opinion holding infectious disease specialist is qualified to testify to standard of care as to post operative infection care given by neurosurgeon. Medical care at issue, not specialty controls.

3. Spotts v Small  61 D&C4th 225  ( Lanc. Co. 2003)

     Opinion by J. Cullen: The language in Section 512 disqualifying experts who have been retired for “five years”  is to be calculated  from the time of the negligence, not the date suit was started or the date of trial.

4.  McLaughlin v. Gettysburg Hospital C.P. Adams Co No. 99-S-675

     Opinions by J. George:  Holds directly opposite to Spotts. disqualified if retired more than five years at time of suit.
     Also rejects constitutional challenge- Section 512 is a rule of evidence which is  within Legislative purview, not Rule of Procedure within Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction.

Written by Terry Hyman with many thanks to Pat Loughren who compiled all the cases.

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Related Files

Recent Certificate of Merit Opinions
Certificate of Merit Rule
Certificate of Merit Order
Faculty Information
Certificate of Merit Summary of Cases
Evaluation Form

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