The Kentucky Supreme Court has unanimously ruled medical review panels are unconstitutional. The high court said the law goes against Kentucky's constitution by delaying access to courts.
"We hold that because the Act delays the access to the courts of the Commonwealth for the adjudication of common-law claims, Chapter 216C violates Section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution." the opinion read.
The court also said it went against the constitutional prohibition against special legislation.
"It appears the MPRA is a special act designed to benefit health care providers as opposed to the classification of all other defendants facing tort claims. This special legislation benefits and protects health care professionals without affording the same protection to other tort defendants--even other types of malpractice targets." the opinion read.
Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled the measure unconstitutional last fall. The General Assembly passed medical review panels in 2017, which required a panel of doctors to review any malpractice cases before going to court.
Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, said the ruling was "highly disappointing".
"With this ruling, the seven members of the state Supreme Court have made it nearly impossible to initiate meaningful tort reform because they have chosen to assume for themselves the authority granted by our constitution to the state legislature." he said in a statement.
The Kentucky Medical Association released a statement also saying they were disappointed in the ruling
"The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) is extremely disappointed in the Kentucky Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the recently passed medical review panel law. Kentucky now remains one of the few states in the country with no meaningful tort reform, including medical liability reform, making our system more susceptible to higher costs and frivolous lawsuits. Many individuals and groups worked closely with legislative leaders and legal experts to create a fair policy that would pass constitutional muster because of the need to implement tort reform in Kentucky. Despite this work, the Court has chosen to uphold the status quo that discourages physician recruitment, inhibits access to quality healthcare, and increases patient costs, while also ensuring that the litigation process for those who have justifiable claims will remain long and complicated." the statement read.