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anna13 asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 1 decade ago

Is a plaintiff obligated to sue all defendants if the defendants are jointly and severally liable?

When people have joint and several liability - say regarding a contract - do plaintiffs have to sue all the defendants, or can they pick and choose which ones to sue, even randomly?

How about just JOINT liability - now must plaintiffs sue all the defendants?

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    No, however it would be poor judgment not to. With possible multiple defendants, but not all named, those named would point the finger that liability lies in the other defendants. The defendant would file a counterclaim naming the unnamed defendants. The role of the jury is to apportion fault among defendants, and according to state law the money may be prorated per the verdict. Therefore is a defendant is not named and they are found at fault (even proportionatly) the plaintiff will be out that sum of money. This is a loose explanation as variables such as state law as to joint and several liability and the required percentage of fault varies signifcantly between states.

  • 1 decade ago

    I would sue them all together. Here's the deal in some cases, espescially in cases where there is joint and several, there is mandatory joinder. That means if you don't join everybody in the same suit you loose the chance to ever sue them. This is to save the court time so that the facts/case is only put in once, rather than against every defendant.

    If the liablity is joint and several that means that each defendant is liable for the whole amount. Say there are six defendants, you could get all of the money from Defendant 1 and then Defendant 1 would have to sue the other defendants to seek contribution to the judgment they paid outt. Joint liablity means that each Defendant is only liablle for their porportionate share.

    So joinder is more important when there is just joint liablity, then where there is joint and several. But its important either way so all parties are there and everybody can tell their story. Also the more defendants there are the more money you might get if they decide to settle, more pockets involved. Join them all. Hope this helps.

  • 1 decade ago

    The plaintiff can sue only one or several potential defendants. Usually a defendant who recognizes other potential defendants will name those persons in pleadings.

    The best thing to do is go after the person with the most money.

  • 1 decade ago

    The plaintiff can technically sue whomever they want, whether they're associated or liable or anything else. Whether or not they will win is another story.

    Generally, it's a good idea (depending on what kind of case it is) to name everyone in the lawsuit who is even slightly associated.

    For example, in a medical malpractice case, let's say a woman dies from a faulty pacemaker, and there might be doctor issues as well. Her family can sue the doctor, the hospital the doctor works for, the company that owns that hospital, the company that makes and/or sells and/or runs the company that makes or sells the pacemaker, as well as maybe even the dead woman's insurance company, or the pharmacutical company that makes one of the drugs she was taking. It depends on the situation. But generally, it's easier to name everyone and dismiss them if necessary later.

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