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LEGAL UPDATE: Governor Corbett signs tort reform bill limiting civil liability

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 28, 2011 – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett today signed into law Senate Bill 1131, which limits the liability for the negligence of defendants in some civil court cases.

After the Senate signed off earlier this month, the state House voted 116-83 on the Bill on June 27.

As a result of this law, supporters anticipate that business owners and other defendants will not have to pay a disproportionate share of the damages for negligence awarded in certain civil court cases.

Current law holds that all defendants potentially liable for damages may be required to pay 100 percent of a damages award if their co-defendants cannot pay for the negligence resulting in death or injury to a person or property.

Supporters of the new law argue that the old standard allowed an alleged victim’s lawyer to target wealthy companies and small-business owners who had only minor involvement in the negligent act because of their ability to pay out higher amounts in potential settlements.

Under the new law, defendants found to be less than 60 percent at fault would not pay more than their share of the damages, except in certain specific cases.

House leaders said the law now aligns Pennsylvania with the legal standard in effect in 40 other states.

Please click here to read the full text of the Bill.