Law School Case Brief
Schwartz v. Swan - 63 Ill. App. 2d 148, 211 N.E.2d 122 (1965)
Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 110, para. 24 (1963) provides: Joinder of defendants. (1) Any person may be made a defendant who, either jointly, severally or in the alternative, is alleged to have or claim an interest in the controversy, or in any part thereof, or in the transaction or series of transactions out of which the controversy arose, or whom it is necessary to make a party for the complete determination or settlement of any question involved therein, or against whom a liability is asserted either jointly, severally or in the alternative arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions, regardless of the number of causes of action joined. (2) It is not necessary that each defendant be interested as to all the relief prayed for, or as to every cause of action included in any proceeding against him; but the court may make any order that may be just to prevent any defendant from being embarrassed or put to expense by being required to attend any proceedings in which he may have no interest. (3) If the plaintiff is in doubt as to the person from whom he is entitled to redress, he may join two or more defendants, and state his claim against them in the alternative against different defendants, to the intent that the question which, if any, of the defendants is liable, and to what extent, may be determined as between the parties.
Two automobile accidents involving a common victim occurred within 10 days. Two of the three victims of the first accident filed a negligence complaint against the drivers and a passenger in the three automobiles allegedly at fault in the two accidents. The drivers filed a motion to sever the victims' claims involving the two accidents, contending that a trial of issues involving two separate accidents would have prejudiced the drivers' substantial rights to a fair and just trial. The trial court severed the claims involving the second accident, consolidated the remaining claims with the claims of the other victim in the first accident, and after a trial, ruled in favor of the drivers in the first accident. The victims appealed, contending that the trial court erred in ordering a severance of claims involving the second accident and a consolidation of all claims involving the first accident.
Are plaintiffs permitted to join multiple defendants in a single action, when the relief sought relates to a series of wrongful acts, which were committed by different defendants?
The court reversed, remanded, and held that justice required that one victim be permitted to prosecute her claims against the drivers in a single trial. To hold otherwise required the common victim to prove in separate trials the certainty of the injuries resulting from each occurrence.
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