Responsible third parties are neither responsible, nor are they parties. Instead, responsible third parties exist primarily to allow defendants to escape joint and several liability.

In the wake of the dramatic changes that the legislature made to responsible third party practice in 2003, the hurdle to being named as a responsible third party essentially has been removed. A defendant’s strategy now is simple and straightforward: designate as many responsible third parties as possible to dilute the defendant’s percentage of responsibility below 50 percent and to avoid joint and several liability. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, confront a much more difficult set of strategic decisions.

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