Erkins v. Case Power & Equip. Co.

164 F.R.D. 31

 

RULE:

Under the New Jersey Tortfeasors Contribution Act, joint tortfeasors may be held liable under different theories of recovery.

FACTS:

The decedent was riding in the bucket of a backhoe on a construction site when he fell out of the bucket and under the wheels of the machine, suffering fatal injuries. The administratrix of the decedent's estate filed a complaint against the backhoe manufacturer seeking to hold the manufacturer strictly liable for failing to provide adequate warnings regarding the danger of riding in the bucket. The backhoe manufacturer wished to implead, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 14, the contractor and subcontractor for their negligence.

ISSUE:

Under New Jersey law, may a defendant in a strict products liability action seek a contribution from a third-party in a negligence theory?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The statute contains no requirement that joint tortfeasors be liable in tort under the same theories of liability. Further, New Jersey case law consistently holds that joint tortfeasors may be held liable under different theories of recovery.

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