Bruno v. Erie Ins. Co., 106 A.3d 48, 72-73 (Pa. 2014)

The Certificate of Merit rule applies only to claims brought by a client against a licensed professional

Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042.1 et seq., the “Professional Liability Actions” Chapter of Rules, adopted in 2004, provides for the filing of a Certificate of Merit in support of a professional liability claim. Amendments in 2008 include this emphasized verbiage in Rule 1042.1(a): “The rules of this chapter govern a civil action in which a professional liability claim is asserted by or on behalf of a patient or client of the licensed professional against (1) a licensed professional … who deviated from an acceptable professional standard …” It was generally recognized and understood that claims asserted against a professional by one who was not the professional’s client did not require a Certificate of Merit. However, the trial court in Bruno ruled that a Certificate of Merit was required for a claim by one other than the client of the professional. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed, but did not publish an opinion. This resulted in “excess litigation activity,” in that professionals would seek dismissal of claims by non-clients for lack of filing of the Certificate. In December 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed, specifically holding that the Certificate of Merit is only required to support professional liability claims asserted by the client of the licensed professional.

Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2015

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