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Joint liability bill headed to governor’s desk

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation that effectively eliminates the legal premise of joint liability in personal injury, financial damages or wrongful death lawsuits (HB2002) is headed to the governor’s desk after the Senate passed a House-Senate conference committee version of the bill Tuesday on a 28-6 vote.

The bill, one of several this session changing state liability laws, changes what Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, has called an unfair provision in current law in which a defendant who is 5 percent at fault in a liability suit could be required to pay the total amount of damages if other defendants lack the financial resources to pay their share.

Under the new legislation, if one or more defendants’ share of a verdict is uncollectable, that share is reallocated to other defendants in amounts proportionate to their original amounts of the claim.

The House-Senate compromise also states that defendants cannot be held liable for damages in cases in which the plaintiff’s injury or financial damages occurred as a result of the commission, attempt to commit, or the fleeing from a felony criminal act.

Trump said the felony would have to be related to cause for damages…

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