Landers v. E. Tex. Salt Water Disposal Co.

151 Tex. 251, 248 S.W.2d 731 (1952)

 

RULE:

Where the tortious acts of two or more wrongdoers join to produce an indivisible injury, that is, an injury which from its nature cannot be apportioned with reasonable certainty, all of the wrongdoers will be held jointly and severally liable for the entire damages.

FACTS:

The property owner's action seeking a joint and several judgment of damages and injunctive relief was dismissed as to the damages feature by the trial court, when, after the oil and disposal companies' plea in abatement asserting a misjoinder of parties and of causes of action had been sustained, he declined to replead so as to assert several liability only against each of the defendants in separate suits. The allegations of the petition were sufficient to assert a case of joint and several liability against the corporations and there was no misjoinder of either parties or causes of action.

ISSUE:

Did the plaintiff's pleading allege facts which, if established by evidence, made the defendants jointly and severally liable for plaintiff's damages?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The rule is well established in this state, and supported by almost universal authority, that an action at law for damages for torts cannot be maintained against several defendants jointly, when each acted independently of the others and there was no concert or unity of design between them. In such a case the tort of each defendant is several when committed, and it does not become joint because afterwards its consequences, united with the consequences of several other torts committed by other persons in producing damages. Under such circumstances, each tort-feasor is liable only for the part of the injury or damages caused by his own wrong; that is, where a person contributes to an injury along with others, he must respond in damages, but if he acts independently, and not in concert of action with other persons in causing such injury, he is liable only for the damages which directly and proximately result from his own act, and the fact that it may be difficult to define the damages caused by the wrongful act of each person who independently contributed to the final result does not affect the rule.

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