Saturday, July 14, 2007
Follow up on why the pedestrian crossed the road: Nebraska Supreme Court wont let attorneys pocket a quick settlement from a co-defendant, dismiss him from the case and then go after the deep pockets for the entire case. Tadros v. City of Omaha, S-05-1538, 273 Neb. 935 The plaintiff was injured crossing at the crosswalk West Omaha. A motorist ran her over and she sustained serious injuries. The plaintiff filed a political subdivision tort claim against the city and sued the driver, but later settled and dismissed the driver for $35000. The plaintiffs injuries apparently exceeded $1million. Because poltical subdivisons are liable for up to $1milliion the court reduced the judgment. The trial court determined the parties responsibility for the accident to be 50% City, 30% driver, 20% plaintiff. City appealed when the court took off only the $35000 settlement and not the driver's 30%. Supreme court reverses because under §25-21,185.11(1) RRS Neb a defendant's obligation for an accident proportional to his percentage of fault in the accident, inlcuding the fault of dismissed defendants. Under the contributory negligence statutory scheme in nebraska,joint tort-feasors who are“defendants”in an action “involving more than one defendant” share joint and several liability to the claimant for economic damages. they are liable for the entire amount of the claimant’s economic damages which are not chargeable to the claimant,so long as the claimant’s contributory negligence is not equal to or greater than the total negligence of all persons against whom recovery is sought. but,when the claimant settles with a joint tort-feasor,the claimant forfeits that joint and several liability. the claimant cannot recover from the nonsettling joint tort-feas o r more than that tort-feasor’sp roportionate share in order to compensate for the fact that the claimant made settlement with another that may prove to be inadequate.