County Implementation of New Medical Malpractice Law in North Carolina
Effective October 1, 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted a new law regarding judicial assignment related to medical malpractice cases. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-47.3 (directing the rotation and assignment of superior court judges) has been amended to add a subsection, “[t]he Senior Resident Superior Court Judge shall designate a specific resident judge or a specific judge assigned to hold court in the district to preside over all proceedings in a case subject to Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure” S.L. 2021-47. This new subsection applies to all pending medical malpractice cases, as well as all actions filed on or after October 1, 2021. The amendment serves to effectuate a more streamlined judicial process in medical malpractice cases, which often involve complex procedural and substantive issues. Statutes governing medical malpractice actions are quite nuanced, and the new legislation allows for judges handling these cases to become more familiar with medical malpractice rules and procedures. Further, the General Assembly has provided parties with a certain level of autonomy by including the provision that a judge shall be assigned in consultation with the parties.
Judicial districts across North Carolina are working to implement the new law.
- In Wake County, the parties will file a Medical Malpractice Case Notification and Consultation Form with the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court. Wake County allows each party to propose up to two proposed superior court judges to handle the case.
- The Fifth District, which encompasses Buncombe County, has implemented the use of a similar form and procedure as Wake County.
- The Ninth Judicial District, encompassing Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren County, has implemented the use of a similar form and procedure as Wake County.
Teague Campbell handles the defense of medical malpractice actions across the state of North Carolina and is closely following each district’s procedural updates. We will continue to monitor updates as more counties implement the new law.