Notice for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Struck Down by Court

The Washington State Supreme Court has struck down a state law that requires a 90 day waiting period prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The waiting period legislation was one of several legislative changes made concerning medical malpractice cases in 2006.

The Washington Supreme Court overturned the waiting period requirement because, according to the Court, the notice violated the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government. The 6-3 ruling marks the second time in a year that the courts have rejected attempts by the state legislature to reform medical malpractice procedures.

Another legislative attempt at malpractice reform was thrown out by the courts last September. The court ruled that a law requiring injured parties to first obtain a certificate of merit before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit was a violation of the separation of powers’ doctrine as well as an undue restriction on a citizen’s right of access to the judicial system.

According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, “The courts already have procedural rules for filing civil suits, and adding a 90-day notice “conflicts with the judiciary’s power to set court procedures,” Justice Charles Johnson wrote for the majority.