CHAPTER 151

UNIFORM CONTRIBUTION AMONG TORTFEASORS ACT

AN ACT CONCERNING CONTRIBUTION AMONG TORTFEASORS, RELEASE OF TORTFEASORS, PROCEDURE ENABLING RECOVERY OF CONTRIBUTION, AND MAKING UNIFORM THE LAW WITH REFERENCE THERETO.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. JOINT TORTFEASORS DEFINED:--For the purposes of this Act the term "joint tortfeasors" means two or more persons jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to person or property, whether or not judgment has been recovered against all or some of them.

Section 2. RIGHT OF CONTRIBUTION; ACCRUAL; PRO RATA SHARE:--

(1) The right of contribution exists among joint tortfeasors.

(2) A joint tortfeasor is not entitled to a money judgment for contribution until he has by payment discharged the common liability or has paid more than his pro rata share thereof.

(3) A joint tortfeasor who enters into a settlement with the injured person is not entitled to recover contribution from another joint tortfeasor whose liability to the injured person is not extinguished by the settlement.

(4) When there is such a disproportion of fault among joint tortfeasors as to render inequitable an equal distribution among them of the common liability by contribution, the relative degrees of fault of the joint tortfeasors shall be considered in determining their pro rata shares.

Section 3. JUDGMENT AGAINST ONE TORTFEASOR: The recovery of a judgment by the injured person against one joint tortfeasor does not discharge the other joint tortfeasors.

Section 4. RELEASE; EFFECT ON INJURED PERSON'S CLAIM:--A release by the injured person of one joint tortfeasor, whether before or after judgment, does not discharge the other tortfeasor unless the release so provides; but reduces the claim against the other tortfeasors in the amount of the consideration paid for the release, or in any amount or proportion by which the release provides that the total claim shall be reduced, if greater than the consideration paid.

Section 5. RELEASE; EFFECT ON RIGHT OF CONTRIBUTION:--A release by the injured person of one joint tortfeasor does not relieve him from liability to make contribution to another joint tortfeasor unless the release is given before the right of the other tortfeasor to secure a money judgment for contribution has accrued and provides for a reduction, to the extent of the pro rata share of the released tortfeasor, of the injured person's damages recoverable against all the other tortfeasors.

Section 6. INDEMNITY:--This Act does not impair any right of indemnity under existing law.

Section 7. THIRD PARTY PRACTICE:--(1) Third Party Practice under the provisions of this Act shall be as provided by Rule of Court except as hereinafter provided.

(2) A pleader may either (a) state as a cross-claim against a co-party any claim that the co-party is or may be liable to the cross-claimant for all or part of a claim asserted in the action against the cross-claimant; or (b) move for judgment for contribution against any other joint judgment debtor, where in a single action a judgment has been entered against joint tortfeasors one of whom has discharged the judgment by payment or has paid more than his pro rata share thereof. If relief can be obtained as provided in this Sub-section no independent action shall be maintained to enforce the claim for contribution.

(3) The court may render such judgments, one or more in number, as may be suitable under the provisions of this Act.

(4) As among joint tortfeasors against whom a judgment has been entered in a single action, the provisions of Section 2, Sub-section (4) of this Act apply only if the issue of proportionate fault is litigated between them by cross-complaint in that action.

Section 8. CONSTITUTIONALITY:--If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.

Section' 9. UNIFORMITY OF INTERPRETATION:--This Act shall be so interpreted and construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law of those states that enact it.

Section 10. SHORT ITILE:--This Act may be cited as the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act.

Approved May 27, 1949.