Proportionate Responsibility, Joint and Several Liability, and the Jury Charge

07/27/2011

When faced with a negligence case with one plaintiff, one defendant, and a single responsible third party, the submission of the proportionate responsibility issue to the jury is a relatively simple task. But the presence of different claims, theories or parties can make the submission of proportionate responsibility and other joint and several liability issues to the jury quite complex. This paper will demonstrate some of the potential traps and open issues parties may face in multi-theory or multi-party cases, including the following:

  • to what claims does Chapter 33 apply,
  • how many apportionment questions are necessary,
  • can negligent and intentional conduct be mixed in a single apportionment question,
  • are both the primary and a derivatively liable party included in the apportionment question,
  • how risky is it to fight inclusion (or exclusion) of RTPs from the apportionment question,
  • is the issue one of mitigation or contributory negligence, and
  • how does a joint and several liability theory, like conspiracy, affect apportionment, if it does?

Presented to the State Bar of Texas 34th Annual Advanced Civil Trial Course, July 27-29, 2011, San Antonio, Texas; Dallas, Texas, August 24-26, 2011; Houston, Texas, October 26-28, 2011. To read the full article, click on the PDF linked below.

PDF - Proportionate_Responsibility_Joint_and_Several_Liability_Jury_Charge.pdf

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