Superior Court Opines on Medical Malpractice & Ethics/Disqualification of Counsel

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has ruled on two high profile matters, one a medical malpractice case (Matharu v. Muir) with a long appellate history, the other affirming that disqualification of counsel is appropriate when the attorney has acquired confidential information in a prior representation substantially related to the current pending matter (Dougherty v. Phila. Newspapers):

In Dougherty v. Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC, 2014 PA Super 24 (Pa.Super., February 11, 2014), the Superior Court held that appellate review is appropriate of an Order denying a Motion to Disqualify Counsel when a party avers facts establishing a colorable claim that the potential disclosure of attorney work product and the breach of the attorney-client privilege could result in irreparable harm. When the record demonstrates that counsel’s prior representation of the party is substantially related to the current matter, and that a member or members of counsel’s law firm acquired confidential information from the party, disqualification of counsel is appropriate.  Click here to read the opinion.  Click here to read Judge Donohue’s concurring statement.

In Matharu v. Muir, 2014 PA Super 29 (Pa.Super., February 21, 2014), the Superior Court affirmed its prior holding that when  a claim alleging negligence arising within the confines of the physician-patient relationship, and the averments of the Complaint do not assert any failure to intervene with a third party, Section 324A of the Restatement of Torts (2d), which requires an averment that the physician has undertaken “to render services to another which he should recognize as necessary for the protection of a third person,” does not apply. Click here to read the opinion.

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