Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Discussion on Joint Tortfeasor Releases Under the New Fair Share Act

I recently received an inquiry as to whether or not the cases now falling under the Fair Share Act, which applies to all incidents occurring on or after June 28, 2011, would required a different form of a joint tortfeasor release if the parties were inclined to enter such a settlement agreement in part.  As I did not know the answer, I posted an inquiry on the Pennsylvania Defense Institute Member Listserve and also asked a few Plaintiff's attorneys for their thoughts on this novel issue.

I note that the most common response was that most attorneys haven't changed their form joint tort releases despite the application of the new Fair Share Act in the more recent cases. The thought remains that a proper pro rata joint tortfeasor release will still serve to immunize the settling defendant from further indemnity exposure.

It was also noted that, if the Fair Share Act applies to a given case, the court may be required to mold the verdict based on the terms of the joint tortfeasor release.

When I suggested that this topic would make a good CLE topic, one attorney advised that the PBI already has a CLE on the topic titled "How to Properly Document a Settlement Agreement" and subtitled "After the New Joint and Several Liability Law."  The materials are referenced at PBI No. 2012-7607.

Of course, the above should only serve as a start, and not an end, to any research or discussion on this novel question.  Further research on the issue is recommended and this post should not be relied upon as a final answer to the question.

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