Article 2212a of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes, the Comparative Negligence and Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act, took effect on September 1, 1973. It made significant changes in the respective rights and liabilities of injured persons and tortfeasors in negligence cases. This paper is principally concerned with multiple tortfeasor cases, and with section 2 of article 2212a, which modified principles concerning joint and several liability, contribution, and settlement. Prior to the enactment of article 2212a, each tortfeasor whose negligent behavior proximately caused an indivisible injury to another was jointly and severally liable to the injured party. This principle has been altered by section 2(c) of article 2212a. 2 Before the enactment of 2212a, contribution among joint tortfeasors was governed by article 2212 of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes and a substantial body of case law. In negligence cases4 article 2212a supersedes article 2212.1 Under prior law, the impact of a settlement by one tortfeasor upon the liability of other tortfeasors was controlled by Palestine Contractors, Inc. v. Perkins. In negligence cases, the effects of settlements are now controlled by sections 2(d) and (e) of article 2212a.
The full ramifications of these modifications of Texas negligence law are yet to be determined. One purpose of this article is to explore questions raised by the Texas comparative negligence statute in order to clearly identify future problems. Part I of this article will examine the changes made by a few reported decisions, including arguments for and against the debatable interpretations of article 2212a. It incorporates much of the standard interpretation or sets of assumptions contained in the now substantial body of periodical literature discussing Texas comparative negligence. Part II suggests methods for resolving the statute's interpretation problems. Neither article 2212a nor article 2212 discusses the problem of indemnity among joint tortfeasors. However, the procedural issues involved in indemnity cases are the same as those presented in contribution cases.
Texas Tech Law Review
William V. Dorsaneo, III & David W. Robertson, Comparative Negligence in Texas, 10 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 933 (1979)