HARRISBURG, Pa., April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on two bills concerning the legal principle of "joint and several liability," a centuries-old doctrine that ensures all wrongdoers are held accountable for the injuries they cause to others. The first of these bills, Senate Bill 2, would effectively eliminate joint and several liability in virtually all cases. The second bill, Senate Bill 500, would leave Pennsylvania's traditional rule on joint and several liability in place while targeting a rare and inequitable application of the doctrine.
Senate Bill 2, introduced by Sen. Jake Corman, drastically alters Pennsylvania's long-established joint and several liability rule. It blocks plaintiffs from recovering the full amount of a verdict from any defendant who is less than 60% liable for the plaintiff's injuries. This 60% threshold is the highest in the nation. If adopted, SB2 would overturn a proven doctrine that protects innocent victims of negligence. It puts profits, primarily of insurance companies, ahead of safety and full compensation for innocent victims.
The claim that eliminating joint and several liability in Pennsylvania will create jobs is an urban legend with no basis in reality. If SB 2 is enacted, insurance companies will receive windfall profits with no corresponding reduction in policyholder premiums. Future victims of negligence will become dependent on state and federal benefit systems.
SB 2 has numerous problems besides its faulty basis. It will have devastating consequences on innocent victims. It will profit insurance companies at the expense of the public by shifting responsibility for future care of victims from wrongdoers to taxpayers. Finally, it is likely unconstitutional.
The Pennsylvania Association for Justice opposes changes in Pennsylvania's joint and several liability rule because this rule is based on safety and responsibility. Safety, because the rule holds wrongdoers accountable; responsibility, because the rule prevents the cost of negligence from being shifted back onto the injured person or taxpayers.
Contact: Robert Bershad; 215.546.6451 x 101; [email protected]
SOURCE Pennsylvania Association for Justice