HARRISBURG – The State Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Corman (R-Centre) aimed at restoring fairness to the judicial system by reforming the practice of joint and several liability. The legislation passed with bi-partisan support.
“Known as the ‘Fair Share Act,’ this bill is based on the premise that a defendant should only be responsible for paying his or her fair share of damages in a civil case,” Corman said. “Our civil justice system is not supposed to be used as a lottery – it should be based on fairness, common sense and economic opportunity.”
Under joint and several liability, a defendant found liable in a civil suit could be held 100 percent responsible, even if their responsibility was is only 1 percent. Senate Bill 1131 reforms the joint and several doctrine, by disallowing joint liability in cases where a defendant is less than 60 percent legally responsible. Pennsylvania is one of nine states, and the District of Columbia, that has not passed this measure of tort reform.
“The bill strikes the right balance between fostering a healthy business environment for job growth and ensuring victims will remain compensated for their injuries,” said Corman.
In 2002, the Fair Share Act was signed into law only to be struck down on a procedural court challenge. It was passed again and vetoed by Gov. Ed Rendell in 2005. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives where it is likely to be passed and sent to the Governor for his signature.
“I am extremely pleased to see the Senate moving forward on this important legislation,” Corman said. “Reforming the joint and several liability system in Pennsylvania provides fairness and predictability. Defendants in civil cases should be assessed according to their level of responsibility, not by how deep their pockets are. This legislation is long overdue.”