Shook Public Policy Group Co-Chair Mark Behrens has filed an amici brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a strict liability asbestos case considering whether the state’s Fair Share Act requires a jury to apportion liability on a percentage basis or on a per capita basis. This distinction is important because if the Act requires liability apportionment on a percentage basis, the jury can consider evidence of a plaintiffs’ claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts.
The brief explains that the purpose of the Act—for each defendant to pay its “fair share” for harm caused—would be undermined if juries were prohibited from considering evidence of bankruptcy trust payments. The brief discusses how other states with similar laws apportion liability on a percentage basis and how applying a per capita rule would facilitate asbestos litigation abuses that have been well-documented for decades. The brief further urges the court to adopt a rule requiring plaintiffs to file all asbestos trust claims before trial to promote transparency and curb abuse.
The brief was filed on behalf of multiple Pennsylvania business and civil justice groups, as well as national organizations including the American Tort Reform Association, Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc., National Association of Manufacturers, American Insurance Association and the NFIB Small Business Legal Center.
The case is Roverano v. John Crane Inc.., Nos. 26 EAP 2018, 27 EAP 2018 (Pa.).