A jointly and severally liable defendantis responsible for the plaintiff’s entire damages even if one or more other defendants contributed to cause the plaintiff’s injury. The default rule in Chapter 33 of the Civil Practice & Remedies Code is that defendants are responsible only for their share of the plaintiff’s damages. A defendant may be jointly and severally liable under Chapter 33 only if the defendant’s percentage of responsibility exceeds 50 percent, or the defendant “with the specific intent to do harm to others, acted in concert with another person” to violate certain provisions of the Penal Code. But the Texas Supreme Court has allowed the imposition of joint and several liability in some other limited circumstances, including where there is an “indivisible injury.”
In Landers v. East Texas Salt Water Disposal (1952), the Texas Supreme Court articulated the rule that, “where the tortious acts of two or more wrongdoers join to produce an indivisible injury, that is, an injury which from its nature cannot be apportioned with reasonable certainty to the individual wrongdoers, all of the wrongdoers will be held jointly and severally liable for the entire damages and the injured party may proceed to judgment against any one separately or against all in one suit.” The rationale for the rule is that requiring a plaintiff to prove each defendant’s separate fault when there is an indivisible injury relieves the defendants of the consequences of their joint wrongs and requires an innocent plaintiff to suffer without recompense.
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