If enacted, a bill passed Tuesday night by the Pennsylvania House would reportedly lead to sweeping changes to the state’s civil justice system, according to the Alliance of American Insurers (AAI).
The bill (HB 1326), which passed the House by a 119-76 vote, would place a cap on non-economic damages for all lawsuits, not just medical malpractice cases as was originally planned. The cap amount would be specified after voter approval.
“Although just a first step, this is great news for all parties that believe Pennsylvania’s whole economy, not just the insurance market, is being strangled by out-of-control lawsuits,” said Neil Malady, Mid-Atlantic regional manager for the Alliance of American Insurers. “Changes such as this will go a long way toward improving the state’s business climate, translating into greater job opportunities and more predictable pricing on a wide variety of consumer goods and services.”
The bill now goes to the state Senate where success is reportedly uncertain, according to Malady. Should it pass, the bill would need to be voted on again in the 2005-06 legislative session and then be approved by the public through a referendum, most likely in the fall of 2005.
Several states have enacted substantial tort reform already this year, including Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho and West Virginia.
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