C hapter e ight a pportionment of d amages 1 intro

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C HAPTER E IGHT : A PPORTIONMENT OF D AMAGES 1. Intro – most jurisdictions now use doctrines in actions with multiple defendants that spread the responsibility among the plaintiff and defendants if there is comparative negligence. 2. Apportioning Damages Among Liable Defendants a. Joint and Several Liability - Treats each defendant as responsible for the entire judgment awarded to the plaintiff. When this doctrine was developed under the contributory negligence system, cases did not involve findings based on percentages of responsibility. The adoption of comparative liability has lead to question if joint and several liability should be continued. 1. Lacy v. CSX Transportation – Sullivan driving w/ family in car, decided to cross RR tracks w/ train coming, thought train was moving slow, and train hit them. i. Negligence of CSX was that she was induced to cross the tracks because a slow moving train was on the fast moving track. ii. Her negligence was negligence per se in driving across the tracks when the warning system was going. iii. This is an interesting case that the real guilty party is the driver of the car was responsible. Under joint and several, one wrongdoer in the case can end up being 100% responsible for the damages even if they are 1% responsible for the injury. iv. The argument for joint and several is that its better for the defendants to bear the cost of the victim’s injuries, not the victim (who did nothing wrong.) It’s under great assault in the so-called “tort reform” movement – which is why several liability is more popular. 2. Sitzes v. Anchor Motor i. Issue: how the adoption of comparative negligence affects joint and several liability. Pro tanto means equal shares – meaning that everyone is equally liable. ii. Under j&s, D1 would pay the entire damages to the victim, and D1 would go after D2 for his pro tanto (generally 50%) iii. Now, pro tanto is relatively gone – we ask juries to ascribe the percentage of liability. Once the jury has ascribed % of responsibility, this flows to the % of damages you have. b. Several Liability – updated versions of joint and several 1. Piner v. Superior Court – Piner hit 2x in one day; went to doctor later that day with back pain but unable to attribute any particular part of injury to his total injuries. i. How does court allocate responsibility among parties that caused injury? ii. Several liability – burden of the defendants to prove their % of liability. They have to bear the cost of proving why their cost is comparatively less than the other D. a. Divisible Injuries – possible to establish which actor caused which harm; P must establish which D caused harm or recover nothing. b. Indivisible injuries – no way to identify which D caused injury – Ds must establish which D caused which harm or share liability.
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Christopher Reinemann
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