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The Economics of Corporate Wrongdoing

President's Message

by Nancy H. Fullam, Esq.


Nancy H. Fullam, a shareholder in the Center City law firm of McEldrew & Fullam, P.C., is President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.

Elimination of joint liability will lead to even greater corporate cover-ups

(10/4/2023) -- It is a simple economic fact: set the threshold for responsibility high enough and it will encourage people to try to evade it. 

It is also one of the many reasons why the proposed elimination of joint legal liability in Pennsylvania is such a bad idea. 

As we have detailed before, the Legislature is poised to consider a proposal to re-enact the legislation that eliminated joint liability in Pennsylvania in the name of improving our “business climate,” something not even business friendly Delaware has done.

Here’s an almost perfect example of what may become all too common of an occurrence if this plan is passed.

Last week, a hospital risk manager for Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre admitted under oath that some documents turned over to the plaintiff’s lawyers had been altered - as many as 67 documents in total - all to avoid liability. The victim of malpractice, a 4-year old boy, went into cardiac arrest and died after doctors and nurses failed to diagnose and treat the boy's bowel obstruction in the 10 hours he was at the hospital.  Upon the discovery of the alterations of the documents, the hospital immediately settled.

They did this under the current system, meaning any liability would put them in jeopardy of being held responsible for all damages.  Imagine how great an incentive it would be to be able to escape this liability with a threshold set at 60 percent? 


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