Federal Law Violations
Peer review actions are most commonly contested in federal court under federal laws. This allows the aggrieved physician to escape state law protections for peer review actions. More important, the federal courts do not recognize state laws that protect peer review committee minutes and related records from discovery. Some federal laws also provide for treble damages and attorney’s fees if the plaintiff prevails. Without the possibility of this increased recovery, it would not make economic sense to contest most improper peer review actions. Laws that pay a bonus to a successful plaintiff are called private attorney general laws. These provisions are intended to encourage private enforcement of the law through civil litigation, saving the government the cost of prosecuting violators in the criminal justice system. Both the antitrust laws and RICO contain these private attorney general provisions.