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Vochinsky v. Geo Group

November 20, 2009

RONALD J. VOCHINSKY, PLAINTIFF
v.
THE GEO GROUP, INC., ET AL. DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Ronald Vochinsky filed a motion for extension of time to file a certificate of merit. For the reasons set forth below, I will deny the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant GEO Group, Inc. operates the Delaware County Prison pursuant to a written contract between GEO Group and Pennsylvania. Complaint at ¶¶ 8-9. On September 29, 2007, Vochinsky was arrested for a traffic violation, and was detained at the Delaware County Prison. Id.

At the prison, Vochinsky alleges he complained of pain and illness, requested medical attention, and had visible signs and symptoms of illness. Id. at ¶ 11-12. Vochinsky was suffering from a severe reaction to a bug bite. Id. at ¶ 13. Vochinksy alleges GEO Group provided no medical attention or assistance and that he did not receive medical treatment until he was transferred to another prison on October 2, 2007.

Id. at ¶¶ 14-19.

II. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

Count II of Vochinksy's Complaint alleges negligence and medical malpractice stating "[GEO Group's] aforementioned acts and omissions constituted negligence . . . " and "[GEO Group's] negligence constituted an act of medical malpractice by violated [sic] the minimal standard of care in the medical community, in failing to provide appropriate medical treatment to [Vochinsky]." Complaint at ¶ 35. Vochinksy failed to file a timely certificate of merit required for actions "based upon an allegation that a licensed professional deviated from an acceptable standard of care." See Pa. R. Civ. Proc. 1042.3(a); Motion for Extension of Time to File Certificate of Merit at ¶ 2.

Vochinsky claimed he did not file a certificate of merit because he did not believe the certificate was required because GEO Group was not a "licensed professional" or "health care provider" as defined by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042.1(b), GEO Group's deviation was "so obvious expert testimony is not required," and GEO Group's liability is based on the malpractice of persons for whom GEO Group is responsible but have yet to be named.*fn1

A. A Certificate of Merit is Required

Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042 provides:

(a) In any action based upon an allegation that a licensed professional deviated from an acceptable professional standard, the attorney for the plaintiff, or the plaintiff if not represented, shall file with the complaint or within sixty days after the filing of the complaint, a certificate of merit signed by the attorney or party that either

(1) an appropriate licensed professional has supplied a written statement that there exists a reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice or work that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside acceptable professional standards and that such conduct was a cause in bringing about the harm, or

(2) the claim that the defendant deviated from an acceptable professional standard is based solely on allegations that other licensed professionals for whom this defendant is responsible ...


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