Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 1131, better known as the "Fair Share Act,'' which reforms how damages are recovered in civil lawsuits and limits the liability for negligence of defendants in some civil court cases.
The new law is designed to keep businesses and health care providers from being driven out of the state by frivolous litigation.
"The Fair Share Act is a key component in addressing one of the most important issues to Pennsylvania - jobs,'' Corbett said, before signing the bill into law in the Capitol Rotunda. "This bill announces to the rest of the world that Pennsylvania is open for business.
"This legislation is critical to improving the state's legal climate, which has direct bearing on the economic climate,'' Corbett said. "It affects the cost of goods and services. It affects the cost and availability of health care. It will encourage companies to move here, grow here and stay here.''
Under the Fair Share Act, each defendant pays only his share of the judgment, which is determined by a judge or a jury.
In the past, if there was more than one defendant and one could not pay, the other defendant would have to pay the full amount. At times, parties only marginally responsible were unfairly forced to pay an entire amount.
"Tort reform legislation ensures that a party's level of financial responsibility is assessed in a fair and equitable manner, rather than based on its financial assets.''
Joining Corbett and the lawmakers on Tuesday at the bill signing ceremony was Gene Barr, vice president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and numerous other business leaders who have been encouraging the passage of tort reform legislation.