SW Legal studies in Business

Imposition of Joint Liability Requires Intentional Tort
Description

Appeals court held that while a tort based on negligence occurred, and the jury had properly apportioned liability, there would be no imposition of joint liability on the tortfeasors, as that requires an intent by the parties to act in concert in the commission of an intentional tort, which did not occur here.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Intentional Tort; Joint Liability; Reckless Driving

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Three friends were drinking after work. Eventually they headed to the home of one of the guys. The two guys driving began to race each other, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. Mein was riding with Cook, who crashed, seriously injuring Mein. He sued Cook and Glasner, the other driver, for negligence and joint liability. At trial, the judge held there was no joint liability. The court found Glasner five percent at fault, Mein 25 percent at fault, and Cook 70 percent at fault. Mein appealed the ruling that there was no joint liability for Glasner.

Decision

Affirmed. For joint liability based on acting in concert, there must be proof to support a conclusion that the parties, Cook and Glasner, made a conscious agreement to commit an intentional tort, not just a tort of negligence, and both must have been active in the commission of the intentional tort. The drag racing was negligent, not an intentional tort. There was no indication that the drivers agreed to cause an accident and inflict serious injury. There was a tort because of the accident, but it was based on negligence. The jury verdict for negligence that apportioned liability will stand; there will be no imposition of joint liability.

Citation

Mein v. Cook, ---P.3d--- (2008 WL 1822309, Ct. App., Ariz., 2008)

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