Pennsylvania Eliminates Joint and Several Liability
By legislation (S.B. 1131) signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Corbett on June 28, Pennsylvania has eliminated the doctrine of joint and several liability, the legal doctrine that makes each defendant in a tort suit potentially liable for all the damage involved in the case, even if a given defendant was only very slightly at fault. The elimination of joint and several is one of the primary tort reforms aimed at by ATA’s Insurance Task Force. There are a few exceptions to new rule in Pennsylvania; that is, if a defendant is found liable for intentional harm or fraud, if it is more than 60% at fault, if it is liable for environmental hazards, and if a defendant is civilly liable for drunk driving. These same exceptions were in the law the last time Pennsylvania repealed joint and several, in 2002. Then, however, the state supreme court invalidated the reform for violation of the single-subject rule for legislation. This time, repeal of joint and several was the only object of the bill. Our congratulations to the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, whose members worked hard for repeal.