Arkansas Strikes Down Part of Certificate of Merit Legislation

The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that portion of legislation requiring a plaintiff in medical negligence cases to file affidavits of merit in medical malpractice cases within 30 days of filing the complaint or face dismissal of plaintiff's complaint.

The Court ruled that the statute imposed a requirement for commencement of an action that was greater than that imposed by Rule 3 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Court went on to say that "[t]he constitutional infirmity in § 16-114-209(b) is the provision for dismissal if the affidavit does not accompany a complaint within thirty days. We do not hold today that the balance of § 16-114-209(b), requiring a reasonable-cause affidavit, is constitutionally infirm. Having said that, it appears that without the time limit of thirty days, the statute largely is duplicative of § 16-114-206 regarding the plaintiff’s burden of proof and medical expert testimony concerning breach of the standard of care in the community."

The case is Summerville v. Thrower, No. 06-501, (Ark. S. C. March 15, 2007).  Read it here.

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