Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jensen v. Intermountain Health Care, Inc. case brief

Jensen v. Intermountain Health Care, Inc. case summary
679 P.2d 903 (Utah 1984)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appellant survivors challenged the decision of the lower court which dismissed a medical malpractice action in which decedent died as a result of negligence on the part of an emergency room physician and respondent hospital.

-The issue on appeal was whether the Utah Comparative Negligence Act (Act), Utah Statute, required the negligence of each defendant in a multi-defendant case to be compared individually against the negligence of the plaintiff or whether the total negligence of all the defendants should be compared to that of the plaintiff to determine whether a particular defendant was liable.
-The court reversed the dismissal and remanded.

-The court found that adoption of the rule requiring individual comparison nullified critical portions of the Act and produced unfair results for both plaintiffs and defendants.
-The court determined that the legislature intended to alleviate the harshness of contributory negligence and provide for a system of loss allocation by apportioning liability based, in part, on fault, and to provide contribution among tortfeasors according to fault.


Joint tortfeasors are liable for contribution without regard to their degree of negligence unless there is such a disproportion of fault that it would be inequitable for there to be an equal distribution by contribution among them of their common liability. If the trial court makes a finding that contribution by equal distribution among the joint tortfeasors (all of them) would be inequitable, then the relative degrees of fault of the joint tortfeasors shall be considered in determining their pro rata shares; but that is solely for the purpose of determining their rights of contribution among themselves, each remaining severally liable to the injured person for the whole injury as at common law.

CONCLUSION: Judgment of dismissal was reversed and the cause remanded.

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