Plaintiffs challenged the trial court’s reduction of economic damages awarded by the jury in a negligence/trespass action where the jury returned a special verdict in plaintiffs’ favor and against Capital Agriculture.
In this negligence/trespass action, Lynn Shuler and Michael Shuler appeal from the judgment entered after a jury returned a special verdict in their favor and against respondents Capital Agricultural Property Services, Inc., et al. Appellants claim the trial court erroneously reduced by 68 percent the economic damages awarded by the jury. The court made the reduction because the jury found that joint tortfeasors, who were employees of the United States, were responsible for 68 percent of the negligence and causation. But the employees were immune from liability because of a pretrial settlement between appellants and the United States. The Court of Appeal agreed with appellants that the trial court erred.
The Court of Appeal modified the judgment to vacate the 68 percent reduction of the economic damages award. The court held that the trial court erred by reducing Capital Agriculture’s joint and several liability for economic damages, and agreed with plaintiffs that Capital Agriculture was jointly and severally liable for 100 percent of the economic damages, reduced by 2 percent for plaintiffs’ contributory negligence and an offset for amounts paid by settling tortfeasors. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment as modified.
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