On June 28, 2011, Pennsylvania passed Act 2011-17 (S.B. 1131), otherwise known as the Fair Share Act. By passing the Act, Pennsylvania has abolished joint and several liability in the majority of negligence and strict liability cases. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102. Specifically, “where recovery is allowed against more than one person, including actions for strict liability, and where liability is attributed to more than one defendant, each defendant shall be 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.” See 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102 (a)(1). Further, a “defendant’s liability shall be several and not joint, and the court shall enter a separate and several judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against each defendant for the apportioned amount of that defendant’s liability.” See 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102 (a)(1).
There are, however, several exceptions under the Act wherein joint and several liability will apply, and “the court shall enter a joint and several judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant for the total dollar amount awarded as damages.” See 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102 (a)(1). The most notable exception is when the defendant has been held liable for 60% or more of the total liability apportioned to all parties. Other exceptions include: intentional misrepresentations, intentional torts, the release or threatened release of hazardous substances under section 702 of the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, and violations of section 497 of the Liquor Code.
The Act also permits the question of liability of any defendant or other person who has settled with the plaintiff and who is no longer a party to reach the trier of fact for consideration. While the Act does not allow judgment to be entered against the settling party, liability may be apportioned to a settling party for purposes of allotting responsibility among the remaining parties. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102 (a)(2). The trier of fact may not consider the liability of an employer with immunity under the Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act in apportioning liability.
Finally, the Act only applies to “causes of action which accrue on or after the effective date of this section.” See Section 3 of Act 2011-17 and 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102. The effective date of the Act is June 28, 2011.
If you would like additional information concerning the Pennsylvania Fair Share Act, please contact Christian J. Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (267) 702-1795.