• Georgia Appellate Court Holds Apportionment Statute Does Not Abolish Right Of Contribution Between Joint Tortfeasors Who Have Settled
  • May 28, 2013 | Author: George B. Hall
  • Law Firm: Phelps Dunbar LLP - New Orleans Office
  • A Georgia appellate court has held that an apportionment statute does not abolish the right of contribution between settling joint tortfeasors because there had been no apportionment of damages by a trier of fact.  Zurich American Ins. Co. v. Heard, 740 S.E.2d 429 (Ga. App. 2013), reconsideration denied (2013).

    Several entities, including a general contractor, architect and engineering firm, were engaged to supervise the development of various aspects of a hotel.  After construction, the owners discovered the presence of mildew and signs of moisture trapped in the building.  The general contractor and owners settled at arbitration.  Subsequently, the general contractor’s insurers sued the architect, engineer and engineering firm engaged to assist in the development of the hotel.  The insurers asserted several causes of action, including contribution/indemnity based upon the defendants’ joint tortfeasor status with the general contractor.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants finding that the enactment of the apportionment statute by the Georgia legislature in 2005, OCGA §51-22-33, abolished the right of a joint tortfeasor to seek contribution from another tortfeasor regardless of whether liability was through settlement or verdict.

    The appellate court reversed, concluding that when there has been no apportionment by a trier of fact as required by the statute, but rather an apportionment determined by settlement, there remains a right of contribution among joint tortfeasors.