Friday, July 8, 2011

Tort Reform?

     Section 7102 of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes was amended recently to modify the application of a legal concept known as joint and several liability.  In essence the theory of joint and several liability provides if multiple defendants are named in a lawsuit and the plaintiff is awarded damages, the plaintiff can go to any one of the defendants and collect the judgment.  The defendant who pays the judgment has the right to pursue the other defendants for their “share.” 

     The new “Tort Reform” called “The Fair Share Act” provides that except in certain circumstances, each defendant shall be liable for only that proportion of the total dollar amount awarded as damages in the ratio of the amount of that defendant's liability.   So in essence, each defendant only pays their fair share.  

     Joint and several judgments will continue to be entered in favor of the plaintiff and against a defendant in cases of
(i)      Intentional misrepresentation case.
(ii)     An intentional tort case.
(iii)    Where the defendant has been held liable for not less than 60% of the total liability apportioned to all parties.
(iv)    A release or threatened release of a hazardous substance under section 702 of the act of October 18, 1988 (P.L.756, No.108), known as the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.
(v)     A civil action in which a defendant has violated section 497 of the act of
April 12, 1951 (P.L.90, No.21), known as the Liquor Code.

     If a joint and several judgment is entered against a defendant that defendant pays more than their pro rata share of the judgment, they may still pursue the other defendants for contribution.

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