joint and several liability

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Joint and Several Liability

A designation of liability by which members of a group are either individually or mutually responsible to a party in whose favor a judgment has been awarded.

Joint and several liability is a form of liability that is used in civil cases where two or more people are found liable for damages. The winning plaintiff in such a case may collect the entire judgment from any one of the parties, or from any and all of the parties in various amounts until the judgment is paid in full. In other words, if any of the defendants do not have enough money or assets to pay an equal share of the award, the other defendants must make up the difference.

Defendants in a civil suit can be held jointly and severally liable only if their concurrent acts brought about the harm to the plaintiff. The acts of the defendants do not have to be simultaneous: they must simply contribute to the same event. For example, assume that an electrician negligently installs an electrical line. Years later, another electrician inspects the line and approves it. When the plaintiff is subsequently injured by a short circuit in the line, the plaintiff may sue both electricians and hold them jointly and severally liable.

Joint and several liability can also arise where a Husband and Wife or members of an organization owe the government income taxes. In such cases, the revenue agency may collect on the debt from any and all of the debtors. In a contractual situation, where two or more persons are responsible for the same performance and default on their obligations, a nondefaulting party may hold any and all parties liable for damages resulting from the breach of performance.

A small number of states do not strictly follow the doctrine of joint and several liability. In such jurisdictions, called comparative Negligence jurisdictions, liability is prorated according to the percentage of the total damages attributable to each defendant's conduct.

joint and several liability

noun absolute, abstruse, across-the-board, aggregate, all-embracing, all inclusive, all-out, bewildering, chaotic, circuitous, clear, collective, combined, complete, complicated, composite, confused, convoluted, difficult, downright, elaborated, enigmatic, entangled, entire, exhaustive, explicit, express, extended, extensive, flexuous, full, gradely, gross, impenetrable, implicated, inclusive, in-depth, individually and collectively liable, individually and mutually liable, inextricable, inscrutable, integral, interlaced, interwoven, intricate, involuted, involved, jumbled, kaleidoscopic, knotted, labyrinthine, muddied, multiplex, obscure, out-and-out, outright, perplexing, plenary, radical, rank, recondite, sheer, sinuous, snarled, straight-out, sweeping, tangled, teetotal, thorough, together or separate, tortuous, unambiguous, unarranged, unclassified, unconditional, undecipherable, unequivocal, unfathomable, universal, unmitigated, unorganized, unqualified, unreserved, utter, varied, whole, widespread
Associated concepts: ostensible principal

joint and several liability

liability where a person can be sued jointly with others or individually for the whole sum, leaving it to the person sued to recover from the others with whom he is jointly liable. For example, every partner is jointly liable with his co-partners and also severally liable for everything for which the firm becomes liable while he is a partner.
References in periodicals archive ?
By its first plea, EI DuPont criticised in particular the Commission for finding that it had participated in the cartel during the DDE period and for wrongly holding it jointly and severally liable for DDE's participation in that cartel during that period.
In other words, some laws say that if the tenants move into the same property at the same time and both sign the same lease, then the tenants are automatically joint and severally liable for debts arising from the lease.
Siemens Transmission & Distribution Ltd (Reyrolle), Siemens AG Osterreich, KEG, Siemens Transmission & Distribution SA (SEHV) and Magrini are jointly and severally liable for the amount of 10,350,000.
On appeal, the plaintiff argued that she should have received the entire jury verdict, minus $150,000 for the settlement, since the defendants caused her indivisible injuries and were jointly and severally liable.
Courts in other states, including California and Tennessee, have held that participants in the chain of distribution may be jointly and severally liable for an injury caused by a defective product.
When tort defendants are held jointly and severally liable, the total of all damages is payable by each defendant without regard to each defendant's individually assigned degree of fault.
In the case of both types of partnerships, the member partners might be jointly and severally liable for each other's misconduct.
In addition, a vicariously liable tortfeasor, such as an employer for the negligence of an employee, will continue to be jointly and severally liable with the active tortfeasor.
James Hurst, VAT senior manager at Grant Thornton's Birmingham office, said: 'The Finance Act 2003 introduced new legislation making taxpayers jointly and severally liable for unpaid VAT on a supply of telephone or computer-related equipment made by another taxpayer.
The court held that the guards were not jointly and severally liable for their failure to intervene in other guards' alleged use of excessive force during a cell transfer and transport procedure.
Where a VAT payer "may be expected to know or reasonably be required to inform themselves of" whether they were participating in a crime, "a person may be held jointly and severally liable for payment of (unpaid) VAT".