Monday, April 11, 2011

PA Houses Passes 'Fair Share Act'

A major reform to Pennsylvania's legal system has been approved by the state House by a 112-88 vote.

House Bill 1, also known as the "Fair Share Act," ensures that defendants in lawsuits pay their fair share of monetary damages instead of the entire award of damages. Pennsylvania is one of only nine states without a "Fair Share Act" on the books.

"This simple, reasonable and responsible lawsuit abuse reform will help put an end to deep pocket frivolous lawsuits and is a necessity if we want to improve Pennsylvania's economic and health care climate," said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai. "The current system is susceptible to abuse by plaintiff lawyers seeking co-defendants with deep pockets such as large employers, hospitals or state and local governments."

The Fair Share Act eliminates joint liability for defendants in civil cases found to be less than 60 percent liable and implements a system of comparative responsibility in which a defendant is responsible for paying only his fair share of the damages, according to Turzai.

"That means if a party is responsible for 10 percent of the fault, that party would be accountable for paying only 10 percent of the total award. Under current law, the doctrine of joint and several liability establishes that a defendant in a multi-defendant civil case may be required to pay damages associated with the actions of its co-defendants."

All but three of the 112 Republicans in the House voted yes on HB 1 and they were joined by three Democrats to pass it.

HB 1, sponsored by Rep. Curt Schroder of Chester County now goes to the Senate for approval. Gov. Tom Corbett promised while campaigning last year to sign a lawsuit abuse reform bill if the Legislature sends it to him.

PA State Rep. Curt Schroder - Schroder's Fair Share Act Wins House Approval

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