PRINTER'S NO. 1455
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
INTRODUCED BY FARNESE, BREWSTER, HUGHES, BOSCOLA AND STACK, OCTOBER 7, 2013
REFERRED TO JUDICIARY, OCTOBER 7, 2013
1Amending Titles 27 (Environmental Resources) and 42 (Judiciary
2and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
3Statutes, in costs and fees, further providing for
4participation in environmental law or regulation; repealing
5provisions relating to participation in environmental law or
6regulation; and, in particular rights and immunities,
7providing for participation in law or regulation related to
8an issue in the public interest.
13[§ 7707. Participation in environmental law or regulation.
14A person that successfully defends against an action under
15Chapter 83 (relating to participation in environmental law or
16regulation) shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees and the
17costs of litigation. If the person prevails in part, the court
18may make a full award or a proportionate award.]
19Section 2. Chapter 83 of Title 27 is repealed:
21PARTICIPATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW OR REGULATION
1§ 8301. Definitions.
16"Enforcement of environmental law and regulation." Activity
17relating to the identification and elimination of violations of
18environmental laws and regulations, including investigations of
19alleged violations, inspections of activities subject to
20regulation under environmental law and regulations and responses
21taken to produce correction of the violations.
22"Government agency." The Federal Government, the
23Commonwealth and any of the Commonwealth's departments,
24commissions, boards, agencies, authorities, political
25subdivisions or their departments, commissions, boards, agencies
1§ 8302. Immunity.
2(a) General rule.--Except as provided in subsection (b), a
3person that, pursuant to Federal or State law, files an action
4in the courts of this Commonwealth to enforce an environmental
5law or regulation or that makes an oral or written communication
6to a government agency relating to enforcement or implementation
7of an environmental law or regulation shall be immune from civil
8liability in any resulting legal proceeding for damages where
9the action or communication is aimed at procuring favorable
11(b) Exceptions.--A person shall not be immune under this
12section if the allegation in the action or any communication to
13the government is not relevant or material to the enforcement or
14implementation of an environmental law or regulation and:
21(3) the oral or written communication to a government
22agency relating to enforcement or implementation of an
23environmental law or regulation is later determined to be a
24wrongful use of process or an abuse of process.
25§ 8303. Right to a hearing.
26A person who wishes to raise the defense of immunity from
27civil liability under this chapter may file a motion with the
28court requesting the court to conduct a hearing to determine the
29preliminary issue of immunity. If a motion is filed, the court
30shall then conduct a hearing and if the motion is denied, the
4§ 8304. Intervention.
8§ 8305. Construction.
13Section 3. Title 42 is amended by adding a section to read:
17(1) A person who:
30(ii) was knowingly false when made;
5(b) Stay of proceedings.--The court shall stay all
6proceedings in the action upon the filing of preliminary
7objections for legal insufficiency of a pleading or other
8appropriate motion on the basis of immunity provided by this
9section. However, the court, on motion and after a hearing and
10for good cause shown, may order that specified discovery be
11conducted. The stay of proceedings shall remain in effect until
12notice of the entry of the order ruling on the preliminary
13objections or on another appropriate motion.
17(d) Admissibility of court determination.--If the court
18determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a
19substantial likelihood that the plaintiff will prevail on the
20claim, neither that determination nor the fact of that
21determination shall be admissible in evidence at any later stage
22of the case, and no burden of proof or degree of proof otherwise
23applicable shall be affected by that determination.
24(e) Intervention.--The government agency involved in
25furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of public
26interest in connection with an issue of public interest may
27intervene or participate as an amicus curiae as provided by
3(g) Abuse of legal process.--In addition to other costs or
4remedies allowed by general rule or statute, including, but not
5limited, to Subchapter E of Chapter 83 (relating to wrongful use
6of civil proceedings) in any administrative or judicial
7proceeding related to the enforcement or implementation of law
8or regulation related to an issue of public interest, the agency
9or court may award costs, including reasonable attorney fees, if
10the agency or court determines that an action, appeal, claim,
11motion or pleading is frivolous or taken solely for delay or
12that the conduct of a party or counsel is dilatory or vexatious.
13(h) Personal information.--A request for information that
14discloses the personal identification of an individual and is
15sought pursuant to discovery shall be quashed on the motion of a
16person whose information is sought.
17(i) Special damages.--The court may award the prevailing
18party who is provided with immunity from suit pursuant to this
19section the costs of litigation including reasonable attorney
20fees if there is a showing that the action brought was frivolous
21or intended to cause unnecessary delay.
22(j) Parties.--In considering any motion or preliminary
23objections provided by this section, the court may additionally
24consider both of the following factors weighing in favor of
25granting immunity under subsection (a)(1)(ii):
30(ii) Has written rules, such as bylaws or articles
6(2) If the communication at issue was made at, or
7resulted from, a meeting open to the general public which was
8conducted in accordance with written rules, bylaws or
9articles of incorporation under subsection (j)(1)(ii).
15(1) any written or oral statement made:
25"Government action." Any action regarding the enactment,
26promulgation, issuance, implementation or interpretation of any
27statute, regulation, policy, procedure or directive by a
3"Issue of public interest." An issue related to:
4(1) Health or safety.
5(2) Environmental, economic or community well-being.
6(3) A government agency or a public figure.
7(4) A good, product or service in the market place.
8(5) Land use or licensing.
9The term does not include private interests, including, but not
10limited to, statements directed primarily toward protecting the
11speaker's commercial interests rather than toward commenting on
12or sharing information about a matter of public significance.
13Section 4. This act shall take effect in 60 days.