Pa. court strikes down law restricting liability claims in civil suits

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 12, 2005

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A Pennsylvania court in July struck down a law that restricted liability in civil cases, opening the door for the return of "joint and several liability" in the state.

The commonwealth court ruling said the law was invalid because it was attached to an unrelated bill providing for DNA testing of sex offenders.

Joint and several liability is a measure that says when more than one party is found negligent in a civil case, any of the parties can be forced to pay the entire award. The recently struck law said defendants could not be held responsible for more than their share of the blame in the case.

Chuck Moran, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said the society expects legislators to reintroduce the law in a different form soon.

"We're always concerned when you see good tort reforms tossed out," Moran said. "But it was on more of a technicality."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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