Pa. House passes punitive damages limit

John O'Brien Jan. 18, 2012, 7:26pm


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has given its approval to legislation that would limit the amount of punitive damages that can be recovered in lawsuits against nursing homes.

In a 103-89 vote Wednesday, the House passed HB 1907, also known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act. The bill's prime sponsor is Glen Grell, a Republican from Cumberland County.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, also a Republican, said the legislation is aimed at curbing frivolous lawsuits against long-term care facilities.

"It's unfortunate, but there are some people who look for deep pockets as a way to make themselves wealthy," Turzai said.

"Through simple, reasonable and responsible actions, we are targeting lawsuit abuses to try to put an end to deep pocket frivolous lawsuits. The top goal for House Republicans is to improve Pennsylvania's economic and health care climate."

The bill limits punitive damages to no more than 200 percent of the compensatory damages awarded in a case. Should the plaintiff allege intentional misconduct, the cap would not apply.

Turzai says the bill applies the punitive damages limitations for physicians to personal care homes, assisted living communities, long-term care nursing facilities, care agencies, health care agencies and hospices.

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