Philadelphia Business Journal
Business interests scored a big victory Tuesday as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation into law that will alter the mechanics of civil liability in negligence cases.
As he promised when he ran for office last year, Corbett signed The Fair Share Act, which essentially eliminates the current doctrine of joint and several liability that has ruled Pennsylvania since the Colonial era — where a plaintiff may pursue an obligation against any one party as if it were jointly liable and it becomes the responsibility of the defendants to sort out their respective proportions of liability and payment.
The new law provides joint liability only when a defendant is found at fault for not less than 60 percent of the total liability apportioned to all parties. Business interests supported the new law while trial lawyers opposed it. State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, offered a compromise proposal that was shot down by Fair Share proponents. The State House and Senate approved Fair Share last week.
“Passage of the Fair Share Act once was an unthinkable goal for small business,” said Kevin Shivers, Pennsylvania Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “Our members have been pushing this stone uphill for a very long time. They’ve been working hard for years to bring some balance to the system and I’m very proud of their perseverance.”
The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) also hailed the new state law.
“This critical reform will help to keep doctors practicing, hospital services open for patients, and preserve essential jobs in communities across Pennsylvania,” HAP President and CEO Carolyn F. Scanlan said.