By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
The state Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to hold another hearing on a proposal that would change Pennsylvania's liability regime, and I will be live-Tweeting from it beginning at 12 noon today.
The state House of Representatives voted last month in favor of the Fair Share Act, which would change Pennsylvania's doctrine of joint and several liability so that defendants that are apportioned responsibility for causing a plaintiff's injuries at 60 percent or less would only pay the portion they were found liable for, rather than being on the hook if other liable defendants can't pay their portion of the plaintiff award. If the legislation passes the Senate, it will likely become law.
During his budget address in March, Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, said that he would sign legislation abrogating the doctrine of joint and several liability, arguing legal liability scares jobs away and leaves minor players stuck paying the full price of lawsuits.
However, the state Senate is considering an alternative to the Fair Share Act: Senate Bill 500, which is primarily sponsored by state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery. That bill would not be as radical a shift as the Fair Share Act. In that legislation, joint liability would be abolished for any defendant whose percentage share of liability is less than the percentage share attributed to the plaintiff. The bill would bar a plaintiff from recovering damages from the defendant in excess of the defendant's percentage share.
Follow me on Twitter at @AmarisTLI as I live-Tweet from the hearing, which is set to start 12 noon today at the Philadelphia Bar Association's building.