Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Declares Fair Share Act Unconstitutional

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Declares Fair Share Act Unconstitutional

July 2004

The Pennsylvania Fair Share Act, which became effective in August 2002, radically changed joint and several liability. In cases involving multiple defendants, the Pennsylvania Fair Share Act required that a defendant must be at least 60% liable before it could be held jointly liable for a plaintiff’s verdict. Under the previous statute, any defendant found 1% liable could be held responsible for the entire verdict. The Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge found the Fair Share Act unconstitutional because it violated the single subject requirement of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Article III, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits the passage of any bill that contains more than one subject. Since the Fair Share Act was part of the DNA Act, which tracked the DNA of felony sex offenders, the judge found that the passage of the Fair Share Act violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The Judge’s opinion does not challenge the content of the Fair Share Act, he merely ruled that the Pennsylvania Legislature improperly enacted the statute. If this opinion is upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, than the Pennsylvania Legislature would have to vote to pass the Fair Share Act. Whether the Pennsylvania Legislature would pass the Fair Share Act again may depend upon the results of the November election.

For further information contact Jay Barry Harris. For more information about other services our firm provides, please call us at 215-893-9300 or email us at lawyers@finemanlawfirm.com.