In our June 2011 Newsletter, we discussed the status of
important pending legislation in Pennsylvania (the Fair Share Act)
designed to eradicate the common law doctrine of joint and several
liability. As of the date of that article, the Pennsylvania House
of Representatives approved the Fair Share Act (H.B. 1), and the
Act was before the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration. After
extensive debate, the Senate ultimately approved a bill
substantively identical to H.B.1.
On June 28, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett signed the Fair Share Act
into law, effective immediately. The Fair Share Act, (42 Pa. Cons.
Stat. § 7102), provides for proportionate share liability
among joint tortfeasors and eliminates the common law doctrine of
joint and several liability in all but a few limited situations.
Under the new law, each defendant is liable for "that
proportion of the total dollar amount awarded as damages in the
ratio of the amount of that defendant's liability to the amount
of liability attributed to all defendants and other persons to whom
liability is apportioned under subsection (a.2)." 42 Pa. Cons.
Stat. § 7102(a.1)(1). Joint and several liability still
applies where there is an intentional misrepresentation, an
intentional tort, a claim under section 702 of the Hazardous Sites
Cleanup Act, a violation of section 497 of the Liquor Code or where
a defendant is liable for 60% or greater of the total liability
apportioned to all parties. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §
The Fair Share Act is a significant victory for product
manufacturers, insurance companies and other businesses who are
often hauled into litigation because of their "deep
pockets" even if they might be only minimally liable.
Reactions from these groups has been overwhelmingly positive.
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Vice President Gene
Barr commented that the Fair Share Act "restores fairness and
predictability to the state's legal system, encouraging
business investment and job growth."1 The Chairman
of the Insurance Agents & Brokers of Pennsylvania further
praised the new law: "The act is a win for consumers,
businesses and the insurance industry, which all carry the
financial burdens of such a litigious
As a practical matter, passage of the Fair Share Act will likely
decrease the frequency "deep pocket" defendants with
minimal liability are brought into litigation. Even if such
defendants are joined in litigation, the Fair Share Act will reduce
the possibility of inequitable judgments. As time passes, product
manufacturers, insurance companies and other business who are often
co-defendants in various litigations will continue to see the
benefits of this significant tort reform.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it had settled enforcement actions against four insurance companies in connection with alleged improper payments between the insurance companies and mortgage lenders.