Roberts v. Alexandria Transportation, Inc.Annotate this Case
Roberts was driving a truck through a construction zone when he saw a flagger holding a sign that said “SLOW.” Roberts slowed down. The flagger suddenly turned the traffic sign to “STOP.” Roberts abruptly slammed on his brakes. Solomakha, driving a tractor-trailer behind Roberts, was not able to stop his tractor-trailer in time and rear-ended Roberts’s truck. Roberts’s injuries resulted in medical bills totaling more than $500,000.
In Roberts’s suit for negligence, Alex (Solomakha’s employers) sought contribution against third-parties for their role in failing to maintain the safety of the construction site. E-K, the general contractor, settled with Roberts and was dismissed from the suit. Alex settled with Roberts for $1.85 million. Before trial on the contribution claim, the district court determined that Alex, Safety (E-K's subcontractor), and E-K must appear on the verdict form so that the jury could adequately apportion fault among every tortfeasor.
The Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act provides that “[t]he pro-rata share of each tortfeasor shall be determined in accordance with his relative culpability” and that “no person shall be required to contribute to one seeking contribution an amount greater than his pro rata share,” with an exception where “the obligation of one or more of the joint tortfeasors is uncollectable. In that event, the remaining tortfeasors shall share the unpaid portions of the uncollectable obligation in accordance with their pro-rata liability.”
The district court concluded that any share of liability that the jury assigned to E-K should not be reallocated between Alex and Safety and ordered that Alex would remain liable for E-K’s entire share along with its own. The Seventh Circuit certified the question to the Illinois Supreme Court, which responded that the obligation of a settling party is not “uncollectable” under 740 ILCS 100/3.