Monday, October 28, 2013

District court dismisses claims that Act 13 violated a physician’s first and fourteenth amendment rights

On October 23, 2013, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss claims that Act 13 of 2013, referred to by the plaintiff as “the Medical Gag Act,” violated the plaintiff physician’s first and fourteenth amendment rights because the physician lacked standing to sue. Rodriguez v. Krancer, 2013 WL 5744866 (M.D. Pa Oct. 23, 2013). The Act contains language that limited the availability of trade secret protected hydraulic fracturing fluid composition to health professionals outside of a medical emergency (58 Pa.C.S. §3222.1(b)(11)). As a physician involved with patients whose “illness or medical condition results from contacts with environmental contaminants” the plaintiff argued that he could not provide the amount of information necessary to conform with the ethical obligation to respect patients’ right to self-decision. The court held that the physician lacked standing under Third Circuit precedent because the injury alleged was too conjectural. The court explained the plaintiff had not yet sustained injury because he had not experienced a situation where Act 13 prevented him from acquiring the information necessary to effectuate treatment. Further, any alleged civil penalties or economic injury to the plaintiff would only be incurred by future actions by the plaintiff. Therefore, the court granted the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss.

Written by: Garrett Lent, Research Assistant
Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
October 2013

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