News & Brews March 13, 2023

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After ‘venue shopping’ allowance, ‘Philly’s medical malpractice cases are surging’

After a rule change that effectively let trial lawyers file lawsuits in counties where they think they’ll get the biggest settlements (rather than where the alleged offense occurred), medical malpractice cases filed in plaintiff-friendly Philly have skyrocketed. The Inquirer reports that the number of such cases “almost tripled in January and February, after the rule change took effect, compared to the same period last year.“ Per the new rule, at least one defendant must do business in the county where the case is filed. This specification, however, has been questionably defined. Judicial reform experts warned against the allowance of so-called “venue shopping.” And as the Commonwealth Foundation’s Nate Benefield tweeted in response to the Inky story, “So JURYmandering has been working out just as the trial lawyers hoped.”

Top Dems knew of sexual harassment claim against Zabel in 2019

Spotlight PA reports that House Democrats have admitted that they knew of the complaint of sexual harassment against Rep. Mike Zabel back in 2019. The story notes, “A spokesperson for state House Democrats at first declined to answer questions about what leadership knew in 2019. Then, on Friday, a spokesperson said ‘the caucus was informed of an incident regarding Rep. Zabel’ that year.” At the time, the spokesperson says, Zabel was “required to complete one on one harassment, discrimination and retaliation training in person with outside legal counsel, as well as Caucus training on power dynamics.”

Lt. Gov. Davis reportedly fires two ‘success stories’

PennLive reports, “As one of his first official acts, Pa. Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis fired two employees who had been touted as prime examples of successful second chances…. The action undid one of his predecessor’s major legacies and raised concerns among advocates that he is not committed to clemency.” The story notes that Davis “is refusing to take responsibility for the firings,” but the separation letter received by at least one of the former employees “was written on Davis’s letterhead and signed by a representative of the lieutenant governor’s office.”

Mastriano hosts first rally since crushing defeat

Suggesting he “still sees himself as smack in the middle of a viable political career,” state Sen. Doug Mastriano—who lost the gubernatorial race to Josh Shapiro by double digits—hosted a political rally on Saturday, PennLive reports. After the rally, Mastriano said, “We plan on doing these every few months or so in different parts of the state.” He is reportedly considering a U.S. Senate run in 2024.

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