New Legislation Involving Medical Malpractice Cases
On June 18, 2021, the Governor signed Session Law 2021-47 (SB 255) (hereinafter, the “Act”). Section 1.(b) of the Act establishes a new procedure for the assignment of medical malpractice cases brought in the Superior Court Division. This new subsection establishes that the same judge will preside over all proceedings in a medical malpractice case from start to finish. The Senior Resident Superior Court Judge is tasked with assigning each medical malpractice case filed in his/her district to a specific judge for this purpose. The requirements of G.S. § 7A-47.3(e) apply to medical malpractice cases brought in the Superior Court Division as opposed to the few medical malpractice cases brought in the District Court Division. These provisions fall within Subchapter 3 of Chapter 7A, which are the provisions that govern the “Superior Court Division of the General Court of Justice.” This change will be effective October 1, 2021 for any pending medical malpractice action AND those filed on or after October 1, 2021. Below, please find an outline of how Guilford County will proceed with complying with the Act.
Essentially, these matters will now be handled in a manner similar to a 2.1 designated case.
Please note, this new legislation should not and will not be used to delay any pending proceedings.
For any medical malpractice matter which is pending and currently set to proceed to trial between now and 1/31/2022, the judge assigned to that trial session will be assigned to those matters.
For any medical malpractice matter pending with a trial date set on or after February 7th, 2022, parties will need to contact the respective TCC in Greensboro and High Point to discuss options of how we will proceed with assigning those matters to a judge. Parties will need to be prepared to present the TCC with (2) options as to who they would request be assigned to their case. They will then confer with those choices to determine a final assignment.
For any medical malpractice matter currently pending without a set trial date, these matters will be placed on the Administrative Calendar as usual. Once parties have received the Notice, they will submit the completed Response in the usual manner. Please note there will be a new section added to the response form for selecting judge options.
When you file a new medical malpractice case, it is now the filing party’s responsibility to notify the respective TCC of the new filing. This will ensure these matters are handled in a timely manner.
Once the action is filed, the TCC will begin communications with the parties as to how they will proceed to assign the matter to a specific judge.
For every medical malpractice case, the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge will enter an order of assignment that shall be sent to the Clerk’s Office for filing and mailing to counsel of record and pro se parties.
Thank you for your cooperation in these cases.