2017 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 15 - Civil Remedies and Procedures
CHAPTER 38 - SOUTH CAROLINA CONTRIBUTION AMONG TORTFEASORS ACT
Section 15-38-15. Liability of defendant responsible for less than fifty per cent of total fault; apportionment of percentages; willful, wanton, or grossly negligent defendant and alcoholic beverage or drug exceptions.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 15-38-15 (2017)

(A) In an action to recover damages resulting from personal injury, wrongful death, or damage to property or to recover damages for economic loss or for noneconomic loss such as mental distress, loss of enjoyment, pain, suffering, loss of reputation, or loss of companionship resulting from tortious conduct, if indivisible damages are determined to be proximately caused by more than one defendant, joint and several liability does not apply to any defendant whose conduct is determined to be less than fifty percent of the total fault for the indivisible damages as compared with the total of: (i) the fault of all the defendants; and (ii) the fault (comparative negligence), if any, of plaintiff. A defendant whose conduct is determined to be less than fifty percent of the total fault shall only be liable for that percentage of the indivisible damages determined by the jury or trier of fact.

(B) Apportionment of percentages of fault among defendants is to be determined as specified in subsection (C).

(C) The jury, or the court if there is no jury, shall:

(1) specify the amount of damages;

(2) determine the percentage of fault, if any, of plaintiff and the amount of recoverable damages under applicable rules concerning "comparative negligence"; and

(3) upon a motion by at least one defendant, where there is a verdict under items (1) and (2) above for damages against two or more defendants for the same indivisible injury, death, or damage to property, specify in a separate verdict under the procedures described at subitem (b) below the percentage of liability that proximately caused the indivisible injury, death, damage to property, or economic loss from tortious conduct, as determined by item (1) above, that is attributable to each defendant whose actions are a proximate cause of the indivisible injury, death, or damage to property. In determining the percentage attributable to each defendant, any fault of the plaintiff, as determined by item (2) above, will be included so that the total of the percentages of fault attributed to the plaintiff and to the defendants must be one hundred percent. In calculating the percentage of fault attributable to each defendant, inclusion of any percentage of fault of the plaintiff (as determined in item (2) above) shall not reduce the amount of plaintiff's recoverable damages (as determined under item (2) above).

(a) For this purpose, the court may determine that two or more persons are to be treated as a single party. Such treatment must be used where two or more defendants acted in concert or where, by reason of agency, employment, or other legal relationship, a defendant is vicariously responsible for the conduct of another defendant.

(b) After the initial verdict awarding damages is entered and before the special verdict on percentages of liability is rendered, the parties shall be allowed oral argument, with the length of such argument subject to the discretion of the trial judge, on the determination of the percentage attributable to each defendant. However, no additional evidence shall be allowed.

(D) A defendant shall retain the right to assert that another potential tortfeasor, whether or not a party, contributed to the alleged injury or damages and/or may be liable for any or all of the damages alleged by any other party.

(E) Notwithstanding the application of this section, setoff from any settlement received from any potential tortfeasor prior to the verdict shall be applied in proportion to each defendant's percentage of liability as determined pursuant to subsection (C).

(F) This section does not apply to a defendant whose conduct is determined to be wilful, wanton, reckless, grossly negligent, or intentional or conduct involving the use, sale, or possession of alcohol or the illegal or illicit use, sale, or possession of drugs.

HISTORY: 2005 Act No. 27, Section 6, eff July 1, 2005; 2005 Act No. 32, Section 16, eff July 1, 2005.

Editor's Note

2005 Act No. 27, Section 11, provides as follows:

"If any provision of Section 6 [adding this section] or its application to any person is held invalid, unenforceable, or unconstitutional, this validity, unenforceability, or unconstitutionality shall negate the other provisions or applications of Section 6, and to this end, the provisions of Section 6 are not severable."

2005 Act No. 27, Section 16(4), provides as follows:

"Section 6 [adding this section] takes effect July 1, 2005, and shall only apply to causes of action arising on or after that date except for causes of actions relating to construction torts which would take effect on July 1, 2005, and apply to improvements to real property that first obtain substantial completion on or after July 1, 2005. For purposes of this section, an improvement to real property obtains substantial completion when a municipality or county issues a certificate of occupancy in the case of new construction, or completes a final inspection in the case of improvements to existing improvements;[.]"

2005 Act No. 32, Section 17, provides as follows:

"If any provision of Section 16 [amending this section] or its application to any person is held invalid, unenforceable, or unconstitutional, this validity, unenforceability, or unconstitutionality shall negate the other provisions or applications of Section 16, and to this end, the provisions of Section 16 are not severable."

2005 Act No. 32, Section 21(A), provides as follows:

"Section 16 [amending this section] takes effect July 1, 2005, and shall only apply to causes of action arising on or after that date except for causes of actions relating to construction torts which would take effect on July 1, 2005, and apply to improvements to real property that first obtain substantial completion on or after July 1, 2005. For purposes of this section, an improvement to real property obtains substantial completion when a municipality or county issues a certificate of occupancy in the case of new construction, or completes a final inspection in the case of improvements to existing improvements."

Effect of Amendment

The 2005 amendment, in subsection (B)(3), added the last sentence; in subsection (F), added "or the illegal or illicit use, sale, or possession of" preceding "drugs".

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