New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Medical Malpractice


December 7th, 2006

Judge Rejects Secrecy in Med-Mal Settlement Involving Public Funds

The following comes from the December 2006 issue of Trial Magazine, put out by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. I would provide a link, but it is members only so this synopsis will have to do:

Following the lead of at least one other judge in his state, a Pennsylvania trial court judge recently refused to seal a settlement in a medical malpractice case, citing the public’s right to know that money from a state fund would be used to pay the widow of the patient who died. (Bryk v. Wilcox, No. 9254 (Pa., Luzerne Co. Com. Pleas settled Aug. 30, 2006).) Amanda Bryk considered filing a claim after her husband, Walter, died shortly after undergoing aortic valve replacement. The surgeon allegedly failed to properly tie off sutures in Walter’s heart, causing a fatal rupture. Before she filed suit, the case was settled, with part of the settlement to be paid from the state’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare Fund). The fund provides excess medical malpractice coverage through the state’s insurance department and is financed by fees assessed on health care providers, moving-violation surcharges, and cigarette tax monies.

In an interview, the judge explained that, since this was public money, the public had a right to know how it was being spent. In addition, he indicated that doctors had complained that the system wasn’t open enough to know what was going on. So, the judge reasoned, if they want to have public disclosure, then it should not be limited to only what the doctors want disclosed, but should instead be full public disclosure.

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