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Kentucky Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Review Panel Law

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court has struck down a new law that requires medical malpractice claims to be screened by a panel of doctors before they can move on to court, saying that the measure “delays access to the courts.”

In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Minton, the court ruled that the measure violated the state constitution.

“Of all the rights guaranteed by state constitutions but absent from the federal Bill of Rights, the guarantee of a right of access to the courts to obtain a remedy for injury is possibly the most important,” Minton wrote.

The law was passed by the Republican-led legislature last year as an attempt to make Kentucky more attractive to doctors and health care companies looking to relocate or expand in the state.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration defended the policy, arguing that it would help weed out frivolous malpractice claims.

A lower court briefly blocked the law last fall but the state court of appeals allowed it to proceed while it was being considered by the Kentucky Supreme Court.


Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at