Joint and Several Reform Pennsylvania

/ 21.Jun, 2011
Pennsylvania currently employs joint and several concepts with respect to contribution among joint tortfeasors.  As a result, a defendant found to be one percent negligent can be responsible for payment of the entire verdict in a tort claim.  This inequitable rule has come under fire. Reform efforts have been moving forward in the Pennsylvania Legislature.  The House of Representatives passed a law which requires a tortfeasor to be responsible for the entire verdict only if the causal negligence of that joint tortfeasor is more than 60 percent of the award.  Otherwise, the tortfeasor is only severally liable. The Pennsylvania Senate has recently undertaken review of joint and several reform.  An effort was made to water down the house bill by including exceptions to joint and several for: (1) economic damages; and (2) where a minor had a beneficial interest in the outcome of the case.  These exceptions would, in many cases, swallow the general rule of joint and several reform.  A recent amendment in the Senate removed these proposed modifications to the reform effort.  Therefore, a bill substantially similar to the House Bill is now before the Senate.  If passed, it is hoped that meaningful joint and several reform can be enacted in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Defense Institute has assisted in the tort reform effort.  Suzanne Tighe and Jim Haggerty have drafted the Position Paper and Supplemental Position Paper on behalf of the Pennsylvania Defense Institute with respect to joint and several tort reform.  Click visit Swartz Campbell’s website for copies of the Position Papers.