HARRISBURG — (June 28, 2011) Ending almost a decade of delay by Pennsylvania’s litigation industry, Governor Tom Corbett today signed into law the Fair Share Act, which reforms the Deep Pockets Rule of "joint-and-several" liability thereby bringing Pennsylvania in line with almost all of our competitor states. Corbett promised legal reform during his campaign, requested the Fair Share Act by name during his budget address to the General Assembly, and made the issue a top priority of his administration.
"Lawsuit abuse is hurting Pennsylvania’s economy, our health care system, and our taxpayers," said Frederick W. Anton III, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. "Ending the archaic, outdated practice of ‘joint-and-several’ liability is an important first step toward limiting lawsuit abuse in the commonwealth. PMA looks forward to continuing our efforts with the broad-based coalition of employers, doctors, hospitals, insurers, and local government leaders that has proved to be so effective in reinstating the Fair Share Act. More reforms must follow, and soon."
Under the Fair Share Act, defendants less than 60 percent responsible for a harm will be required to pay damages equal to their percentage of responsibility – but not more. Any defendant with a 60 percent or greater share of responsibility could be forced to pay up to 100 percent of damages, as could any defendant who committed an intentional act, dumped hazardous waste, or violated the liquor code. The law, which takes effect immediately, ends the lawsuit industry’s power to shake down employers, hospitals, local governments and other solvent institutions, which until now paid the ransom of a settlement rather than risk a ruinous damage award at trial.
"Reinstating the Fair Share Act is welcome, and long overdue," said David N. Taylor, PMA’s Executive Director. "Along with the rest of our coalition teammates, we want to thank our legislative champions: Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Rep. Curt Schroder (R-Chester), who worked tirelessly in their respective chambers to win passage of this important reform. Profound thanks are also due to Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), who shepherded the Fair Share Act through the House twice this session. We also express our gratitude to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) for affording their colleagues an opportunity to vote on the Fair Share Act, and for their respective ‘yes’ votes on the reform."
The lawsuit abuse reform coalition will now refocus on other priorities including venue reform, standards for expert witnesses, proof that a suit is not frivolous before going to trial, limits on the useful life of products, protecting innocent sellers, and allowing doctors to apologize to injured patients, among many others.
"We were successful in this effort because of the contributions of our allied manufacturing organizations and member companies," said Stephanie Larkin, PMA’s Director of Government Affairs. "Special thanks go out to Zippo Manufacturing Inc. and New Enterprise Stone and Lime for their time and service, and also to our friends at Northeast PA Manufacturers and Employers Association, the Manufacturers and Business Association, the Greater Reading Chamber, SMC Business Councils, and the Manufacturers Association of South Central PA."
Founded in 1909 by Bucks County industrialist Joseph Grundy, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association is a Harrisburg-based statewide trade organization representing the interests of the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania’s public policy process. To learn more about us and our pro-growth agenda, visit us online at www.pamanufacturers.org.