Joint and Several Liability and Indemnity
Joint and Several Liability:
Liability under which the plaintiff can collect his damage award from any one of a group of joint tortfeasors if he so chooses.
Where a defendant, who is secondarily liable for a plaintiff’s injuries but is forced to pay damages to the plaintiff, can recover whatever he had to pay the plaintiff from the person who was primarily responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Joint and Several Liability
In certain situations where several tortfeasors have
caused damages to a plaintiff, courts can hold all of the tortfeasors
jointly and severally liable for plaintiff’s injuries. This allows
the plaintiff to collect his damage award from any one of the joint
tortfeasors if he so chooses. For example:
The rules of indemnity allow a defendant, who is secondarily liable for a plaintiff’s injuries but is forced to pay damages to the plaintiff, to recover whatever he had to pay plaintiff from the person who was primarily responsible for plaintiff’s injuries. See White v. Quechee Lakes Landowners’ Association, 742 A.2d 734 (Vt. 1999).
Indemnity typically arises in cases where someone is held vicariously liable for the actions of another, like, for example, in respondeat superior cases. For example:
Jared is a delivery boy for a local pizza shop. While driving to a delivery, Jared pulls into a local sandwich shop to buy lunch. While pulling into the parking lot, Jared loses control of his car and injures Clay. Jared’s stop at the sandwich shop will most likely be considered within the scope of his employment and Clay will be able to sue Jared’s employer for negligence. However, because the employer is only vicariously liable and Jared himself is primarily liable for plaintiff’s injuries, the employer can bring an action for indemnity against Jared. If the employer wins this action, Jared will have to repay his employer whatever the employer had to pay Clay in the original action.