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June 28th, 2011

Fresh Start for Pennsylvania Tort Reformers Starts with Enactment of ‘Fair Share Act’

To the delight of Pennsylvania’s small business owners and larger employers, Gov. Tom Corbett today signed the “Fair Share Act,” legislation that heralds a new day for a state’s often exploited and anticompetitive civil justice system (see #1 Judicial Hellhole, Philadelphia).

Until now, Pennsylvania was among a shrinking minority of states still operating under so-called “joint and several” liability law wherein a civil defendant can be made to pay 100 percent of a jury award even if he is only 1 percent liable for the injury suffered by a plaintiff.

Under the new law, civil defendants who are found liable will pay for their share of the damages.  They won’t pay for the damages caused by other parties just because they have assets and insurance.   (Read more details in the Allentown Morning Call.)

Credit for this major legislative victory goes to Sen. Jake Corman, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, Rep. Curt Schroder and Gov. Corbett for signaling throughout his campaign and early on in his new administration that he’d readily sign such tort reform bills.

A leader of a growing coalition of Pennsylvania businesses and health care providers noted that repealing joint and several liability is only the start of meaningful lawsuit abuse reform in the state.  Other lawsuit abuse reform goals there include prohibition of venue shopping, reasonable protections for manufacturers and innocent sellers of products, medical liability improvements, and reasonable limits on non-economic damages.

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