"[o]ne tortfeasor's right to collect from joint tortfeasors
The early common law held joint tortfeasors
jointly and severally liable for any indivisible injury their joint negligence caused a plaintiff to suffer.
Because punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer, and not to compensate the injured party, they can neither be apportioned nor subject to contribution among joint tortfeasors
. That principle will accomplish the goal of equitably dividing liability for a plaintiffs compensatory damages, while keeping intact the policy of punishing wanton or intentional acts.
Editor's Note: Physicians should exercise due care whenever having any work done in their offices, lest a cause of action arise against them, whether as a joint tortfeasor
Fabre held that all joint tortfeasors
may be placed on a verdict form so that fault could be apportioned among all persons (parties or nonparties) who may have contributed to an accident.
Under this framework, the party requesting the act (A) and the party carrying out the act (B) are joint tortfeasors
vis-a-vis the third party suffering damages (C).
Contribution makes two or more "joint tortfeasors
" liable for their proportionate share of liability.
To the extent that prior common law rules had been onerous to plaintiffs in denying them monetary damages if contributorily negligent for as little as 1% of the total liability, the law after 1975 remained equally onerous to co-tortfeasor defendants subject to joint and several liability, as defendants found to be at fault for only a minor portion of joint tortfeasors
' negligence could still be required to satisfy 100% of the judgments to which plaintiffs were entitled, and subject only to the payors' uncertain right to receive post-payment contribution from other co-tortfeasors.
The Restatement of Torts describes the common law as providing that the liability of joint tortfeasors
(PRPs) should be apportioned where there is a "reasonable basis" for determining the contribution of each cause to a "single harm." Where no reasonable basis for apportionment exists, joint and several liability can be imposed.
The trial court's ruling implicitly suggested that there was no dispute concerning whether the defendants were subsequent tortfeasors, rather than joint tortfeasors
. It appears, however, that the defendants' tortfeasor status was disputed.
The Atlantic Research Court disagreed with the United Technologies court regarding whether potentially responsible parties are joint tortfeasors
. Joint tortfeasors
are subject to joint and several liability.