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Indiana court nullifies statutory limitation on joint and several liability

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Comparative negligence combined with joint and several liability resulted in a variety of absurd cases where the deep pocket with 1% responsibility paid for the negligence or intentional torts of others, so many states, Indiana among them, limited joint and several liability for the minimally responsible.

Abu Rahmatullah's Super 8 Motel, adhering to the non-discriminatory EEOC principle of not performing criminal background checks, hired criminal Joseph Pryor. Unfortunately, Pryor was a recidivist, and robbed and murdered paying guest James F. Santelli. A jury reasonably assigned 97% of the fault to Pryor (currently serving an 85-year sentence), 2% to Rahmutallah for following EEOC guidelines' preference for indifference to criminal history, and 1% to Santelli for reasons that are unclear. This would limit Rahmatullah's liability under the statute, but an Indiana appeals court says it didn't care what the legislature said about the subject, and remanded for a new trial where a jury would not be allowed to assign comparative fault to the intentional wrongdoer. [Santelli v. Rahmatullah (Ind. App. 2012) via Oliver via OL]

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

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