Benninghoff, Harris Vote for Lawsuit Abuse Reform Bill Approved by House
4/12/2011

The House on Monday approved a bill co-sponsored by local Reps. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) and Adam Harris (R-Snyder/Mifflin/Juniata) that would curb lawsuit abuse, reduce health care costs and promote job creation in Pennsylvania. 

“Junk lawsuits are a threat to our health care system and our economy,” Benninghoff said.  “We all wind up paying for lawsuit abuse through higher health care costs and fewer job opportunities.” 

“The impact of lawsuit abuse goes beyond the courtroom to affect every citizen of this Commonwealth who has been struggling to find work these past few years,” said Harris.  “Pennsylvania’s reputation as a state with one of the worst civil justice systems has not escaped the attention of employers who refuse to open shop in the Commonwealth.”   

The measure – House Bill 1 – would reform Pennsylvania’s civil liability system to ensure defendants are responsible only for their fair share of damages. 

Current civil lawsuit rules actually encourage plaintiffs to seek out defendants with deep pockets.  This is because, if one defendant in a multi-defendant case is unable to pay, the plaintiff may receive full payment from a co-defendant.  For example, if a family doctor is found to be liable for 10 percent of damages in a case, but his co-defendants are unable to pay their share, the doctor may be forced to pay the entire settlement. 

“Rural residents are especially harmed by the effects of lawsuit abuse because they lack access to health care facilities and medical specialists,” said Harris.  “House Bill 1 will level the playing field in civil trials and allow the Commonwealth to again attract medical professionals and employers to the state.” 

“This is an issue of basic fairness,” Benninghoff said.  “If a group of kids are playing baseball and one of them hits the ball and breaks a window, we don’t expect the kid who was waiting to bat next to pay for the damage simply because he’s the only one with a newspaper route.  This bill would restore personal responsibility instead of responsibility based on the size of one’s bank account.” 

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. 

State Representative Kerry Benninghoff
171st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
State Representative Adam Harris
82nd District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Dan Massing
dmassing@pahousegop.com      
717.772.9845
KerryBenninghoff.com or Facebook.com/RepBenninghoff
RepAdamHarris.com

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