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Ark. high court strikes down certificate-of-merit law

Late last year, as readers may recall, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down its legislature's enactment of a statute requiring that medical malpractice complaints be accompanied by a "certificate of merit" from a reviewing physician. We noted that although the certificate-of-merit idea is relatively weak stuff as liability reforms go -- even John Kerry and John Edwards saw fit to endorse it -- organized trial lawyerdom still seems intent on blocking it wherever it raises its head. Now the Arkansas Supreme Court, citing its Oklahoma colleagues with evident approval, has struck down the portion of its legislature's certificate-of-merit statute that calls for the dismissal of an action filed without such a certificate. In this case, the court's grounds for invalidating the rule was that it was procedural in nature, and the Arkansas constitution (supposedly) rigidly excludes the state legislature from interfering with matters of civil procedure. John Day comments here, and the opinion in Summerville v. Thrower is here (PDF).



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.