WASHINGTON’S 1986 TORT REFORM ACT: PARTIAL TORT SETTLEMENTS AFTER THE DEMISE OF JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY

I. INTRODUCTION

Section 401 of the 1986 Tort Reform Act substantially changes the structure of Washington’s tort system. Codified as RCW 4.22.070, that section limits application of traditional joint and several liability principles to cases involving hazardous wastes, business torts, or generic products. In all other cases involving “fault,” the court will apply either a pure form of several liability or a limited type of joint responsibility. Whenever the pure form of joint and several responsibility is limited or eliminated, a corresponding risk reversal occurs. In a fully litigated case, the claimant, and not the tortfeasors, bears the risk that a responsible person will be partially or totally insolvent, immune to suit, or able to assert an individual defense. . .

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Thomas V. Harris, Washington’s 1986 Tort Reform Act: Partial Tort Settlement After the Demise of Joint and Several Liability, 22 Gonz. L. Rev. 67 (1986-87).

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