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Judge Defends His Nearly 1 Million Dollar Sanction on Lawyer
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$1 million sanction

Summary: Insurance defense attorney Nancy Raynor was sanctioned with nearly $1 million after a witness referred to the banned reference of smoking in a medical malpractice suit.

Many lawyers in Philadelphia are concerned after Judge Paul P. Panepinto of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas rejected attorney Nancy Raynor’s request to dismiss a $1 million fine. Raynor is an insurance defense lawyer that was involved in a medical malpractice case in 2012.


The estate of Rosalind Wilson sued Roxborough Memorial Hospital for mistakes in her care. Wilson had died two years after receiving care for chest pains and shortness of breath in their emergency room in 2007. An x-ray showed a possibly cancerous nodule, but she was never informed or warned about it.

Raynor was issued the sanction after a witness mentioned that Wilson was a smoker, but Judge Panepinto had forbidden any mention of smoking in the case. The witness was the ER physician John Kelly. Kelly has no recollection of what Raynor had told him.

The Judge did not find Raynor’s new evidence as credible, and called the witnesses testimony an “alibi”. The term alibi is usually only used in criminal cases. The new testimony was by the trial technician, Joseph Chapman, who stated that he overhead Raynor tell Kelly not to mention Wilson’s smoking. Prior witnesses also claimed to overhear Raynor telling Kelly not to mention smoking in his testimony.

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Judge Panepinto viewed the testimonies as lacking any credibility, since no one came forward in the original case in 2012. He also stated that the other testimonies differed greatly from the latest testimony by Chapman. Judge Panepinto believed Raynor to have purposely influenced Kelly’s testimony to change the outcome of the malpractice trial, which ended in a mistrial.

Now other attorneys are worried that they may be punished for their witness’s mistakes. They are calling the amount of almost $1 million to be excessive and harsh. Ethics attorney James C Schwartzman of Stevens & Lee believe the sanction to be “over the top” and that Judge Panepinto should have passed the issue of misconduct by Raynor on to a disciplinary board. Schwartzman also states that Raynor met the burden of proof required to show that the witness made the mistake in using the smoking reference.

Panepinto was ordered by the appellate panel to review the case with the new testimony in February. The case will return to the appellate panel after the latest ruling by Panepinto.





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