Law School Case Brief
Bundt v. Embro - 48 Misc. 2d 802, 265 N.Y.S.2d 872 (Sup. Ct. 1965)
N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 15-102 provides: A judgment against one or more of several obligors, or against one or more of joint, or of joint and several obligors shall not discharge a co-obligor who was not a party to the proceeding wherein the judgment was rendered. N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 15-102 applies to the right of an injured party after he has recovered a judgment against one joint tortfeasor that remains unsatisfied to pursue and obtain a judgment against another joint tortfeasor. There still may be only one satisfaction of the judgment.
Two automobiles collided at an intersection, which was controlled by a stop sign, and the passengers in both cars were injured. Both groups of passengers (Bundt and the Mondini family) brought a negligence action in the Supreme Court, suing the owners and operators of both automobiles as well as Peckham, a construction corporation, which had been doing some repair work on the road. More specifically, the complaint alleged that both automobiles were operated in a negligent manner and that defendant Peckham, while repairing the highway near the intersection, had negligently obstructed the view of the stop sign, resulting in the automobile driven by defendant Embro colliding into the car driven by defendant Di Belardino. Plaintiffs also allege that Peckham's negligence, combined with the negligence of the other defendants, caused the accident. Defendants advised the court that plaintiffs had instituted a separate action against the State in another court proceeding and that a decision rendered by that court had granted a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, of which the judgment had already been satisfied. Defendants argued that since they were joint tortfeasors with the State, the satisfaction of the judgment against the State discharged them. Defendants sought leave to amend their answers.
Was the judgment already satisfied?
The court held that when one was injured by the joint wrong of several parties, the injured party could recover his damages against either or all of the parties. However, although there may be several suits and recoveries, there could only be one satisfaction. Accordingly, the court awarded defendants leave to amend their answers.
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