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PA Superior Court Finds That Employer Is Liable For Contribution Despite Not Being At Fault For Plaintiffs’ Injuries

August 26, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/McLaughlin-v.-Nahata-et-al..pdf">McLaughlin v. Nahata, et al.,</a> </em>the Pennsylvania Superior Court found a hospital could seek indemnity or contribution toward a $17 million verdict rendered against it, from the employer of the doctors found liable for malpractice.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Plaintiffs Alyssa McLaughlin and William McLaughlin sued two doctors over injuries Alyssa received while treating at The Washington Hospital (“TWH”). Plaintiffs also named TWH as a defendant. TWH joined The Dialysis Clinic, the doctors’ employer. Although the doctors performed the treatment that allegedly caused the injuries at TWH, the trial court found that The Dialysis Clinic was the doctors’ employer. Eventually, the doctors settled with the plaintiffs and TWH’s claims for contribution from The Dialysis Clinic were severed into a separate trial.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Dialysis Clinic claimed that it could not be held liable because it did not contribute to the injuries. The Superior Court disagreed. The court reasoned that the Pennsylvania Joint TortFeasors Act “does not limit the right of contribution to tortfeasors who have been guilty of negligence.  Contribution is available whenever two [or] more persons are jointly or severally liable in tort, irrespective of the theory by which tort liability is imposed.” Although the theory of liability against The Dialysis Clinic was only through vicarious liability, the court reasoned that contribution was still available. Ultimately, the Superior Court remanded the case to the trial court because it found that the amount of liability to be apportioned to The Dialysis Clinic was a jury issue.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to John Lang for his contribution to this post. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact <a href="mailto:tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Tom Bracken.</a></p>

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