Today, MACPA PAC trustee Chris Rosenthal of Ellin & Tucker and MACPA CEO Tom Hood joined more than 20 other panelists to testify in opposition to HB 110, the Comparative Negligence Act. The bill was heard before the House Judiciary Committee.
The Comparative Fault Act would change Maryland’s long-standing civil justice principal of contributory negligence which says that a plaintiff cannot collect damages if their negligence contributed to their own injury. The trial lawyers agressively are promoting the more liberal approach of comparative fault whcih says that liability will be allocated among the parties. This means plaintiffs can file more lawsuits with more damages even when they are significantly at fault themselves.
Our main points were as follows:
- Increased lawsuits caused by this will increase costs to Maryland small businesses and Maryland CPA firms, making this effectively a lawsuit tax.
- The hidden costs of defending more lawsuits to Maryland small businesses and CPA firms is the extraordinary amount of time management andexecutives have to spend managing these claims, meeting with lawyers and insurance representatives.
- There is no demonstrated public need to change Maryland’s tort system.
- This proposal adds one more anti-business policy that will make Maryland less attractive to business. (Our most fierce competitive states — Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina — all have our current system of contributory fault.)
The group opposing thls legislation included panels of Maryland’s largest employers, large corporations, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Maryland Association of Counties, and even the State of Maryland Treasurer!
The primary issues is the increased number of lawsuits that would ocurr due to the more complex and easier to argue “comparative fault” doctrine. This would have a detrimental effect on businesses who would see a rise in claims and lawsuits. The insurance industry testified that insurance rates would in fact increase as soon as this legislation was passed.
Attached is our letter of opposition: Download vallario_sb_100.doc
Help us defeat this by writing or calling members of the House Judiciary Committee to vote against the lawsuit tax, HB 110!