Smaller Plaintiffs Firms Benefiting From Others' Selectivity

, The Legal Intelligencer

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In terms of large-firm referrals on the western side of the state, Jerry Meyers of Pittsburgh-based Meyers Evans & Associates said that things are different there than in Philadelphia.

Meyers said that in Pittsburgh, major medical malpractice and negligence cases are handled primarily by small boutiques that thrive on referrals from previous clients.

"The plaintiffs firms in Philadelphia have a tendency to be much, much larger," Meyers said. "The top malpractice lawyers in Pittsburgh are not affiliated with large firms."

Meyers said of his firm's financial threshold, "If we were to have a case that has a total value of $200,000 or $300,000 or the type of case that would incur $50,000 in expenses where the client's return would be trivialized, we won't handle that case."

In addition to being a physician, Deborah S. Maliver is a practicing medical malpractice attorney at Biancheria & Maliver in Pittsburgh.

Maliver said that she does not accept referrals from other firms and determines whether a case is worth accepting by establishing "if it is upsetting to me as a physician."

The scope of the cases Maliver said she takes on are those involving high damages and death or permanent injury. She added, "I would never take a case where I didn't think I was dead-on with liability."

Several lawyers also mentioned that the certificate of merit partially determines the flow of referrals from larger firms to smaller ones.

Zajac said that the certificate of merit requirement has played a significant role in the number of medical malpractice cases referred to his firm.

"I've been seeing more of them since the certificate of merit has gone into effect," Zajac said.

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