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State Senator

Eric D. Coleman

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Representing Hartford, Bloomfield & Windsor

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Contact: Lawrence Cook

April 27, 2012

Coleman: Senate Passes Medical Malpractice Reform

Bill revises 2005 legislation, updates ‘Certificate of Merit’ requirements

State Senator Eric D. Coleman (D-Bloomfield), Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee, announced this afternoon that the State Senate has passed an update to 2005 medical malpractice reform legislation that revises requirements for a “certificate of merit” before a medical malpractice lawsuit can move forward.

Senator Coleman said, “One of the goals of our 2005 medical malpractice law was to try and weed out frivolous cases, while allowing meritorious lawsuits substantiated by the support—a ‘certificate of merit’—of a medical professional similar to the defendant to move forward. It was not our intent for ‘similar’ to mean identical, but it has taken on that meaning over time.

“It is sometimes difficult for a claimant to find a health care provider willing to testify against another health care provider. Many other professionals, including police officers and lawyers, also dislike testifying against others in their profession. There is something of human nature involved.

“Today’s bill will bring some clarity to this issue, and lessen some of the confusion surrounding malpractice cases. If a certificate of merit from an identical medical provider cannot be obtained, the court may instead accept a certificate from a provider deemed to have sufficient knowledge and expertise to comment on the treatment in question.”

Senate Bill 243 would require the plaintiff or their attorney in a medical malpractice lawsuit to obtain a written opinion substantiating their claim, a “certificate of merit,” from a similar health care provider within the same specialty as the defendant.

If the plaintiff cannot obtain a certificate from such a provider, they may obtain one from a different provider the court concludes has sufficient training, education, knowledge and expertise to comment on the treatment in question under the case.

In the event that a certificate of merit is dismissed in court, the plaintiff would be allowed 45 days to bring a new certificate of merit to resuscitate their case.


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