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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Confirms That Only Clients and Patients of Professionals Need a Certificate of Merit

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in Bruno v. Erie Insurance Company holding that the Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure requiring a certificate of merit to pursue a negligence claim against a licensed professional in their professional capacity only applies to clients or patients of the licensed professional.  Although certificates of merit are most common in medical malpractice cases, prior to the Bruno decision, many construction attorneys believed that the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure required a contractor seeking to pursue a Bilt-Rite claim against a design professional (essentially a claim that the plans issued by the design professional (either an architect or an engineer) constituted a negligent misrepresentation upon which the contractor reasonably relied) to obtain a certificate of merit in support of its claim.  However, following Bruno, it is now clear that contractors need not obtain a certificate of merit in support of a Bilt-Rite claim because the contractor is not the design professional’s client.