Law School Case Brief
Brown v. Keill - 224 Kan. 195, 580 P.2d 867 (1978)
The intent and purpose of the legislature in adopting Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-258a was to impose individual liability for damages based on the proportionate fault of all parties to the occurrence which gave rise to the injuries and damages even though one or more parties cannot be joined formally as a litigant or be held legally responsible for his or her proportionate fault.
Plaintiff Britt Brown owned a Jaguar roadster ("Father"). His son, Britt M. Brown ("Son"), was the permissive driver of the Jaguar when it collided with a vehicle owned and driven by defendant Patricia L. Keill. After Keill settled her claim against the Son out of court, the Father filed a lawsuit in Kansas state court against Keill seeking to recover for the damages to the Jaguar. Keill alleged that 90 percent of the causal negligence was attributable to Son and only 10 percent was attributable to her. She further alleged that since Son's causal negligence exceeded 50 percent and her causal negligence was less than the Son's, the Father should not be permitted to recover under the comparative negligence laws of Kansas. At the close of a bench trial the court found: (1) the Father was guilty of no negligence; (2) the Son was responsible for 90 percent of the causal negligence; (3) Keill was responsible for 10 percent of the causal negligence; (4) the Father sustained total damages in the amount of $ 5,423.00; and (5) pursuant to the comparative negligence statute of Kansas the Father was entitled to recover $ 542.30 or 10 percent of his total damage from Keill. Judgment was entered for that amount and the Father appealed.
Did the rule of joint and several liability of joint tort-feasors apply under § 60-258a even though Keill and the Son son were not formally parties?
The supreme court affirmed the decision of the trial court. The court concluded that: (1) the rule of joint and several liability of joint tort-feasors no longer applied under § 60-258a even though Keill and the Son were not formally named as parties, and; (2) the issue of the percentage of fault of the Son was adequately raised in the pleadings, supported by substantial competent evidence and properly decided by the trier of fact.
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