RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION

WHEREAS, there is presently pending in the Pennsylvania General Assembly Senate Bill No. 2, Printer’s No. 456 (“S.B. 2”), and Senate Bill No. 500, Printer’s No. 500 (“S.B. 500”);

WHEREAS, both S.B. 2 and S.B. 500 propose to amend Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to significantly change the substantive rights of parties engaged in tort litigation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania relating to the law on joint and several liability which has been followed in Pennsylvania for over 100 years;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association is recognized as one of the largest and most respected metropolitan Bars in the world, which for more than two centuries has promoted justice, professional excellence and respect for the rule of law;

WHEREAS, a paramount goal of the Philadelphia Bar Association is to advance the development of the law, to improve the application of justice in the field of civil litigation and to cooperate with legislative bodies to preserve the fundamental precepts of justice and fairness for all civil litigants within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;

WHEREAS, the fundamental social policy underlying joint and several liability is that an innocent victim of negligence should be fully compensated for harm caused by two or more negligent defendant tortfeasors;

WHEREAS, when joint and several liability is applied to two or more negligent tortfeasors, the victim of negligent conduct may seek to recover a judgment which the victim can then enforce in whole or in part against each of the negligent tortfeasors, enabling the injured victim to satisfy an entire judgment against any one of the tortfeasors, who may have contribution rights as between them, thereby shifting the risk of recovering any excess paid to the negligent tortfeasors;

WHEREAS, S.B. 2 would eliminate joint and several liability, except in five instances, including particularly “where a defendant has been held liable for not less than 60% of the total liability apportioned to all parties”;

WHEREAS, S.B. 500 would abolish joint liability “as to any defendant whose percentage share of liability is less than the percentage share attributed to the plaintiff,” in which case, “the plaintiff may not recover damages from such a defendant in excess of that defendant’s percentage share”;

WHEREAS, S.B. 2 would unfairly balance the equities between victims of negligence and multiple liable defendants by effectively eliminating the rule of law on joint and several liability;

WHEREAS, S.B. 500 would fairly and equitably eliminate joint and several liability as to any defendant whose percentage share of fault is less than the victim-plaintiff’s share of fault;

WHEREAS, at a meeting of the State Civil Litigation Section, comprised of members of the Plaintiff Bar and the Defense Bar, held on March 9, 2011, S.B. 2 and S.B. 500 were presented to the Section for review, discussion and evaluation;

WHEREAS, by unanimous vote, the State Civil Litigation Section approved a resolution that S.B. 2 should not be passed and recommended that the Board of Governors oppose the enactment of S.B. 2, and that S.B. 500 be passed and recommended that the Board of Governors support the enactment of S.B. 500 as an appropriate, fair and rational law that continues to preserve and protect the rights of all citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

  1. The Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support Senate Bill No. 500, Printer’s No. 500, and to reject Senate Bill No. 2, Printer’s No. 456, or any similar or amendatory language to any other legislation.
  2. The Chancellor is hereby authorized to convey this Resolution to the Legislature and to the Governor, and to otherwise disseminate this Resolution on Senate Bill 500 and Senate Bill 2 as he deems appropriate.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 31, 2011