2009 California Civil Code - Section 1430-1432 :: Chapter 2. Joint Or Several ObligationsCIVIL CODE
1430. An obligation imposed upon several persons, or a right created in favor of several persons, may be: 1. Joint; 2. Several; or, 3. Joint and several. 1431. Joint Liability An obligation imposed upon several persons, or a right created in favor of several persons, is presumed to be joint, and not several, except as provided in Section 1431.2, and except in the special cases mentioned in the title on the interpretation of contracts. This presumption, in the case of a right, can be overcome only by express words to the contrary. 1431.1. Findings and Declaration of Purpose The People of the State of California find and declare as follows: a) The legal doctrine of joint and several liability, also known as "the deep pocket rule", has resulted in a system of inequity and injustice that has threatened financial bankruptcy of local governments, other public agencies, private individuals and businesses and has resulted in higher prices for goods and services to the public and in higher taxes to the taxpayers. b) Some governmental and private defendants are perceived to have substantial financial resources or insurance coverage and have thus been included in lawsuits even though there was little or no basis for finding them at fault. Under joint and several liability, if they are found to share even a fraction of the fault, they often are held financially liable for all the damage. The People--taxpayers and consumers alike--ultimately pay for these lawsuits in the form of higher taxes, higher prices and higher insurance premiums. c) Local governments have been forced to curtail some essential police, fire and other protections because of the soaring costs of lawsuits and insurance premiums. Therefore, the People of the State of California declare that to remedy these inequities, defendants in tort actions shall be held financially liable in closer proportion to their degree of fault. To treat them differently is unfair and inequitable. The People of the State of California further declare that reforms in the liability laws in tort actions are necessary and proper to avoid catastrophic economic consequences for state and local governmental bodies as well as private individuals and businesses. 1431.2. Several Liability for Non-economic Damages (a) In any action for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, based upon principles of comparative fault, the liability of each defendant for non-economic damages shall be several only and shall not be joint. Each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of non-economic damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant's percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall be rendered against that defendant for that amount. (b) (1) For purposes of this section, the term "economic damages" means objectively verifiable monetary losses including medical expenses, loss of earnings, burial costs, loss of use of property, costs of repair or replacement, costs of obtaining substitute domestic services, loss of employment and loss of business or employment opportunities. (2) For the purposes of this section, the term "non-economic damages" means subjective, non-monetary losses including, but not limited to, pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation and humiliation. 1431.3. Nothing contained in this measure is intended, in any way, to alter the law of immunity. 1431.4. Amendment or Repeal of Measure. This measure may be amended or repealed by either of the procedures set forth in this section. If any portion of subsection (a) is declared invalid, then subsection (b) shall be the exclusive means of amending or repealing this measure. (a) This measure may be amended to further its purposes by statute, passed in each house by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring and signed by the Governor, if at least 20 days prior to passage in each house the bill in its final form has been delivered to the Secretary of State for distribution to the news media. (b) This measure may be amended or repealed by a statute that becomes effective only when approved by the electors. 1431.5. Severability. If any provision of this measure, or the application of any such provision to any person or circumstances, shall be held invalid, the remainder of this measure to the extent it can be given effect, or the application of such provision to persons or circumstances other than those as to which it is held invalid, shall not be affected thereby, and to this end the provisions of this measure are severable. 1432. Except as provided in Section 877 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a party to a joint, or joint and several obligation, who satisfies more than his share of the claim against all, may require a proportionate contribution from all the parties joined with him.
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