Lawsuit Abuse Reform

Making the Commonsense Moves to Make Pennsylvania
More Friendly to Job Creators

House Republicans have taken lead in reducing lawsuit abuse in the Commonwealth and protecting the business and medical communities from frivolous lawsuits. A centerpiece of this effort is the Fair Share Act (House Bill 1/ Senate Bill 1131), which reforms the state’s joint and several liability law by ensuring that defendants found negligent or liable for an injury are responsible for only their share of the damages. 

The Fair Share Act was passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Corbett on June 28, 2011.

What the Fair Share Act does

The Fair Share Act changes current law to allow defendants found at fault in a civil suit to pay only the portion of the judgment commensurate with their liability. So, for example, if three defendants are found 10%, 40% and 50% at fault in a million dollar judgment, each defendant would pay that percentage of the judgment even if any of the others were not able to pay at all.

Sounds like common sense, right? Prior to the Fair Share Act being signed into law, the law stated that, in the above example, if any of the defendants found at fault were not able to pay, the remaining defendant would be compelled to pay the full 100 percent of the judgment. From this we derive the term “deep pockets.”

Creating a More Job-Friendly Environment in PA

Small businesses are often put out of business due to the time and cost involved in defending a frivolous lawsuit.  Our Commonwealth's small businesses suffer more because Pennsylvania has one of the most hostile-to-business tax and regulatory environments in the country.

A state’s civil liability laws are almost always considered by business executives who make expansion and relocation decisions. It’s simple: Legal liability costs scare jobs away. 

But businesses aren't the only group who are shouldered with this burden. Consumers bear the brunt of hidden “lawsuit taxes” increase prices across the board ...
  • higher insurance rates, 
  • more expensive consumer goods, 
  • inflated health care costs (due to high malpractice insurance rates),
  • reduced access to critical professional services, 
  • fewer jobs,
  • fewer product innovations.

Passage of this legislation will help ensure access to quality health care and furthermore would help to maintain and add family sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania. We need to ensure employers can feel confident doing business here. Unfortunately, the abuse of our legal system through frivolous lawsuits has been making that task more difficult.