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Pa. Senate approves bill to allow legislature
to cap jury awards in med-mal cases

(3/10/2023) -- On Wednesday morning, the Pennsylvania Senate narrowly passed a bill that begins the process to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to permit the legislature to enact caps on jury awards in medical malpractice cases.

[A copy of the current version of the bill is available on the Senate’s web site: http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2003/0/SB0009P1416.pdf ]

After lengthy debate, the Senate approved an amendment to SB 9 by a vote of 28-22. The measure may allow limits on the dollar amount that juries can award for pain and suffering in medical malpractice claims, but no dollar amount is specified in the Senate bill. The bill now shifts to the House of Representatives. Earlier in the evening, the Senate defeated by a vote of 27-23 an amendment that would have permitted caps in all types of civil cases.

PaTLA President Richard J. Schubert said he was “extremely disappointed” by the Senate’s action but vowed to vigorously fight the bill. “After a great deal of caucus and debate, the Senate narrowly passed a bill to begin the amendment process for allowing the legislature to cap damages in med-mal cases only,” Schubert said. “This bill unfairly restricts the rights of victims of medical mistakes who seek civil redress,” he said. “Insurance reform, not caps on victims, are the only solution to lowering doctors’ insurance premiums,” he added.

Any proposal to change the Constitution must pass both the House and the Senate in two successive two-year sessions of the Legislature, and then receive voter approval.

“We will continue to fight this type of restrictive action at every step,” Schubert concluded.

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