On Tuesday, June 28 Governor Corbett signed legislation that changes Pennsylvania’s joint and several doctrine to make a defendant’s damages in a civil liability case equality to his liability. A defendant could be 100 percent liable only if his fault for the injury is deemed by a judge or jury to be over 60 percent.
The Governor said the legislation is critical to improving the state’s legal climate, “which has direct bearing on the economic climate.’’
“It affects the cost of goods and services. It affects the cost and availability of health care. It will encourage companies to move here, grow here and stay here,’’ the Governor said.
As with past legislative attempts to revise tort law, the legislation pitted the business, insurance and health care provider communities against the trial bar and victims’ rights groups.
Gene Barr, Vice President of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said that the law was “monumental news.”
“After working with state lawmakers for more than ten years to bring Pennsylvania into the mainstream with regard to financial liability, we are grateful not only that the Legislature has again supported Fair Share Act legislation, but that we have a governor who will sign this critical reform measure.”
But Legislative Counsel for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, which represents the trial bar, said that the real losers with the legislation are the victims not the lawyers.
“This is a very good bill for big insurance and big corporations,” said Mark Phenicie. “It’s very bad for small business and the victims.”