Certificate of Merit
By Gary Vinson – Greve Clifford Wengel & Paras
This article gives a general overview of the Certificate of Merit Law and how it is applied. Below is a quote from this article:
Many design professionals, and some of the attorneys who defend them, believe the Certificate of Merit law has often been circumvented or ignored and ask what rights they have if plaintiff’s counsel fails to comply.
Before the attorney can sign the Certificate of Merit, s/he must review the facts of the case with one design professional, licensed and practicing the same discipline as the defendant, and receive an opinion that the defendant was negligent in the performance of professional services. When that consultant’s opinion has been received, the attorney may declare, under penalty of perjury, that s/he has concluded there is reasonable and meritorious cause to file a lawsuit. Curiously, the statute does not require the consultant’s opinion to be in writing.
The Certificate of Merit statute provides the identity of the consultant is privileged information which is protected from disclosure. There is, however, one exception. The exception applies if the case goes to trial and the design professional wins. Upon winning, s/he may move the court to verify that plaintiff’s attorney complied with the law about the Certificate of Merit. The trial Judge may then require the disclosure of the name, address
and telephone number of the design professional who was consulted. The disclosure, however, is to the Judge only. The attorney for the defendant is not given the information.