Medical Liability Monitor September 2022 Issue Highlights

September 9, 2022 by matray

Modest Slowdown in Premium Growth Distinguishes Second-Quarter Financial Results for MPL Specialty Insurers
In our analysis of 2022’s first quarter (see MLM, July 2022), we discussed the increase in premium associated with MPL writers boosting rate levels in jurisdictions with poor underwriting results. This growth slowed modestly during the second quarter as premium growth (i.e., the premium written in second-quarter 2022 compared with that written in second-quarter 2021) decreased by 2%. However, the composite’s direct written premium is still up 2.2% in aggregate, relative to the second quarter of 2021 (Figure 1), due to the strong first quarter in 2022. Despite the slowdown, the 2022 full-year premium still has a shot at challenging the composite’s 2006 peak …

Health Insurer Sued for Medical Malpractice Over Prior Authorization
The estate of Kathleen Valentini blames her health insurance company Group Health Inc. (GHI) and its utilization review process for her 2020 death from cancer. Attorneys for her estate argued that the insurer’s denial of prior authorization for an MRI constituted medical malpractice, a delay in diagnosis that led to the amputation of her hip, pelvis and leg and ultimately caused her death …

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Expands Medical Malpractice Venue Rule
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania last month directed that medical liability lawsuits can be filed in almost any county within the commonwealth, rather than requiring such claims be filed in the county where the adverse medical outcome occurred. The amendment expanding Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice venue rules will take effect Jan. 1, 2023 …

North Carolina Supreme Court Overrules 90-year Precedent Shielding Nurses from Medical Liability Claims
The Supreme Court of North Carolina last month overturned a 90-year-old state court precedent that protected nurses from civil liability when they were working under a physician’s supervision. The high court did so because “the nursing profession evolved tremendously over the 90 years since” the precedent was set — with the training, licensure, responsibility and scope of practice for nurses expanding greatly ...

MagMutual to Acquire MDAdvantage of New Jersey
MagMutual Insurance Co. announced last month that it and MDAdvantage Holdings Inc. reached an agreement for MagMutual, headquartered in Atlanta, to acquire the New Jersey-based insurer of medical liability. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval from the New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance and MDAdvantage Holdings shareholders. The transaction is expected to close before the end of 2022 …

Constellation to Acquire Centurion Medical Liability Protective RRG
Constellation announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Centurion Medical Liability Protective Risk Retention Group and to provide ongoing management services to its insureds. Customers with Centurion policies expiring on or after Jan. 1, 2023, will receive a non-renewal notice from Centurion and renewal terms from MMIC RRG. MMIC RRG is sponsored by Constellation, a portfolio of medical liability insurance companies that includes MMIC Insurance Inc., UMIA Insurance Inc. and Arkansas Mutual Insurance Co. …

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ProAssurance Declares Quarterly Dividend

September 9, 2022 by matray

The board of directors of ProAssurance Corp. declared a cash dividend of $0.05 per common share, payable on October 13, 2022, to shareholders of record as of September 29, 2022.

The ProAssurance dividend policy anticipates a total annual dividend of $0.20 per share, to be paid in equal quarterly installments. However, any decision to pay future cash dividends will be subject to the board’s final determination after a comprehensive review of the company’s financial performance, future expectations and other factors deemed relevant by the board.

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MedMal Direct Names Steven Carey VP of Claims

September 2, 2022 by matray

MedMal Direct Insurance Co. named Steven Carey its new vice president of claims, effective immediately.

“Steven is an experienced claims professional with a strong desire to apply the strategies learned to defend our insureds working with our local defense counsel,” Marc D. Hammett, MedMal Direct president and CEO. “I have had the pleasure to work with him directly since he joined our team in 2020. His understanding of physician medical professional liability claims coupled with his dedication to being responsive to our insureds, clear communication throughout the process and securing expert counsel to defend their reputation. This passion and desire to work on behalf of our insureds during this difficult and trying time makes Steven the perfect selection to assume this role for the organization.”

Carey previously served as the assistant vice president of claims for MedMal Direct and has more than 14 years of claims management experience in medical professional liability.

“Our Board is pleased to have Steven assume the VP of claims role and the challenge to manage the claims responsibilities at MedMal Direct,” said P. Butler Ball, CEO and director of Physicians Trust, Inc., MedMal Direct’s parent company. “Steven’s experience in the industry, his commitment to excellence and his dedication to our insureds makes him the ideal choice to lead our claims team.”  

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Wilson Elser Fortifies Medical Malpractice & Health Care Practice with Two Lateral Partners

September 1, 2022 by matray

National law firm Wilson Elser announced today that two lateral partners have joined the firm's Medical Malpractice & Health Care Practice in the White Plains and New York offices, effective September 1, 2022.

Timothy Sheehan and Joe Swart joined the firm from DeCorato Sheehan Merolesi & Federico LLP. Before working at DeCorato, Sheehan was a trial lawyer at Wilson Elser from 1987 to 2012, serving as a partner for the last 19 years of his tenure.

In returning to the firm, Sheehan will be based in the White Plains office, and Swart will work in the New York City office.

"I want to welcome Tim and Joe to the firm and to our practice," said Lori Semlies, co-chair of Wilson Elser's Medical Malpractice & Health Care Practice. "Tim and Joe will strengthen our already deep trial bench and bolster the defense litigation capabilities we offer our clients. On a personal note, I was an associate on Tim's team when I joined Wilson Elser, and am thrilled to be working with him again."

Sheehan is an experienced trial attorney, focusing on the defense of high-exposure medical malpractice claims. For more than 35 years, he has represented hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, dentists, chiropractors and other medical professionals in a myriad of claims arising out of the delivery of medical care across all areas of specialization.

As a measure of his experience and reputation, Sheehan was certified by the Supreme Court of the State of New York as a medical malpractice panelist and served in that capacity in Westchester, New York and Kings counties while the panel system was in effect.

Swart concentrates his practice on defending hospitals, physicians, physicians' assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners. He specializes in every aspect of complex medical malpractice litigation, including obstetrics, gynecology, oncology, brain injury and surgical cases, often obtaining an early dismissal or facilitating a defendant's verdict at trial.

Prior to entering private practice, Swart was a prosecutor in the Kings County District Attorney's Office, where he spearheaded long-term criminal investigations into narcotics and firearms trafficking cartels, including the Latin Kings and other gangs. His investigations received attention from national media, including Court TV, The New York Times and HBO.

Sheehan earned his J.D. degree in 1984 from University of Buffalo Law School and a B.A. degree in 1981 from the University of Buffalo. Swart earned his J.D. degree in 1996 from New York Law School and a B.A. degree in 1993 from Auburn University.

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AM Best Affirms The Doctors Company’s ‘A’ (Excellent) Financial Rating

August 23, 2022 by matray

AM Best has affirmed The Doctors Company's financial strength rating (FSR) of A (Excellent) and its long-term issuer credit rating (ICR) of "a+". The outlook of these ratings is stable. These ratings apply to The Doctors Company, An Interinsurance Exchange, and its subsidiaries: TDC Specialty Insurance Company, TDC National Assurance Company, TDC Special Risks Insurance Company, and The Doctors Company Risk Retention Group, a Reciprocal Exchange.

"These ratings from AM Best reflect the strength and stability of our company and reinforces our vision to build the preeminent organization for service to healthcare," said Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, Chairman and CEO of The Doctors Company and TDC Group. "Our financial strength allows us to help healthcare professionals meet the challenges of a constantly shifting landscape and better serve our members."

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Positive Physicians Promotes Brian Durkin to Chief Financial Officer

August 16, 2022 by matray

Positive Physicians Holdings, the holding company of Positive Physicians Insurance Company and Positive Professionals Management LLC, promoted Brian Durkin to its chief financial officer position. Durkin will also continue to serve as treasurer. Mark Keyser had been serving as the company’s interim CFO and is expected to remain with the company in a consulting role. This appointment was approved by the Positive Physicians Board of Directors on Aug. 15.

“I am pleased to announce the promotion of Mr. Durkin as our next CFO,” said Michael G. Roque, Positive Physicians president and chief executive officer. “I am confident Brian has the strategic vision and depth of industry experience to lead our finance organization. It is important to have the best talent to help us execute on our strategic initiatives for 2022 and beyond, including achieving significant growth and changing the landscape of the MPL industry by creating new ways of transacting business. I’m excited to have Brian join our executive team to help us continue to build on the Company’s momentum in the MPL industry.”

Durkin has more than 16 years of experience in the property and casualty insurance industry. He recently served as Positive Physicians’ senior vice president and treasurer. Prior to joining the company as controller in December 2020, he served in various roles during his 8-year tenure at Chubb.

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Mutual Insurance Co. of Arizona (MICA) Appoints Edward G. Marley as New President and Chief Executive Officer

August 16, 2022 by matray

Mutual Insurance Company of Arizona (MICA) announced that Ed Marley will be the organization’s new president and chief executive officer, effective Sept. 1, 2022. As this new role, Marley will succeed James Carland, MD, who has led MICA as president and CEO since 1997 and as chairman of the MICA Board of Trustees since 2003. Carland will continue as executive chairman of MICA’s Board of Trustees.

Marley steps into this role after leading MICA’s financial operations for 11 years as its chief financial officer. Under his leadership, MICA strengthened its financial position as demonstrated by its rating of A (Excellent) from AM Best Company. MICA’s balance sheet has grown to nearly $1.2 billion and $800 million in statutory surplus during his tenure. Since its inception, MICA has issued $700 million in policyholder dividends.

“During an extensive nationwide search, we sought someone who had the business acumen, industry expertise, and long-term vision to further MICA as an industry leader,” Carland said.“We are confident that with his leadership, Ed is the right person to continue MICA’s commitment to its member-insureds and its physician focused mission.”

Marley brings an extensive history of professional liability experience to his new role. Prior to joining MICA, he served as vice president at The Doctors Company and at SCPIE Holdings Inc. Earlier in his career, he served as the chief financial officer for a professional liability carrier insuring CPAs. 

Marley is active within the Medical Professional Liability Association, having been past chair and current member of its Technology, Human Resources & Finance Committee and a member of the Committee on Rating Agency Relations. He earned an MBA from the University of San Francisco and received an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. 

“As President and CEO, I plan to continue the strong and enduring mission of MICA,” Marley said. “MICA is an exemplary advocate for its physicians and advanced health care professionals and a regional industry leader.”


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AM Best Assigns “A” Credit Ratings to MMIC Risk Retention Group, Inc.

August 16, 2022 by matray

AM Best has assigned a Financial Strength Rating of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “a” to MMIC Risk Retention Group, Inc. The outlook assigned to these Credit Ratings is stable. MMIC RRG is a sponsored risk retention group of Constellation, Inc., the parent company of MMIC Insurance, Inc., which is the lead member of Constellation Insurance Group (Constellation).

The ratings of MMIC RRG reflect the consolidated balance sheet strength of Constellation, which AM Best categorizes as strongest, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

The rating assignment level reflects MMIC RRG’s role as a member of Constellation. Explicit support is provided to MMIC RRG through participation in a quota share reinsurance program with MMIC Insurance, Inc. In addition, MMIC RRG is fully integrated into Constellation’s operations and strategic plans, including a centralized management structure.

Constellation sponsored the formation of MMIC RRG in 2011 to meet the geographic expansions needs beyond its licensed territories. Constellation specializes in providing medical professional liability insurance to physicians, clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, ancillary healthcare providers, long term care facilities and also offers self-insured retention options.

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Medical Liability Monitor August 2022 Issue Highlights

August 5, 2022 by matray

Pennsylvania General Assembly Debating Bill to Consider Constitutional Amendment Empowering it to Establish Venue Rules
Certain members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly want unambiguous authority to set venue policy in the area of medical professional liability (MPL) lawsuit filings. To that end, state Rep. Rob W. Kaufmann recently introduced a joint resolution to consider a constitutional amendment empowering the General Assembly to establish venue in civil cases. The General Assembly’s interest in setting venue policy stems from a recently proposed change to venue rules by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee. The proposal would revise a 2002 rule requiring plaintiffs to file MPL claims in the county where the alleged injury occurred …

Maryland High Court Rules Loss of Years Claim Not Available via Wrongful Death Statutes
A patient’s terminal illness does not give rise to a wrongful death claim based on the argument that the person would have lived longer had the diagnosis been correctly made and life-extending treatment started earlier, a divided Maryland Court of Appeals ruled last month in a 5-2 decision. The Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state of Maryland ...

The Autonomy of Hospital Ethics Committees Post-Dobbs: It’s Unclear How Restrictive State Laws Will Be Applied to Complex Medical Situations
Since the United States Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health decision, there’s been significant discussion by lawyers, philosophers, healthcare providers and political leaders. The ruling has created uncertainty and confusion for those working in the healthcare space, and as lawyers, we are now being asked to advise our clients on myriad issues ranging from criminal culpability to the tax consequences of providing or paying for reproductive care. At the provider level, the questions we’re being asked are founded on the principle of autonomy. How can I provide appropriate care for my patient? Does my patient have the autonomy to make reproductive healthcare decisions? Is my autonomy as a provider different than it was two weeks ago? …

NM Appeals Court Holds Patient to Signed Arbitration Agreement
The New Mexico Court of Appeals recently reversed a ruling by a district court judge that denied a motion by Sunset Villa Care Center to compel arbitration for a medical liability lawsuit in which the patient signed an arbitration agreement. The appellate court determined that the district court erred in denying the motion to compel arbitration on contract validity grounds because the arbitration agreement was supported by alternative consideration and that the language of the delegation clause requires questions regarding enforceability and unconscionability be submitted to the arbitrator, not to a judge or jury …

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