Where an action is brought against two persons as joint tortfeasors, and one or both are held liable to the plaintiff, is the judgment res judicata in a subsequent action between the codefendants for contribution?
In American Motorists Insurance Co. v. Vigen, and General Casualty Co. of Wisconsin v. Golob, two persons were sued together as joint tortfeasors in a personal injury action. Judgment was rendered in favor of one defendant and against the other defendant. The unsuccessful defendant paid the judgment and then brought an action against his successful codefendant for contribution, and sought to establish a common liability of the two original defendants to the original injured plaintiff as a basis for his claim. The defendant contended that the former adjudication, by which he was held not to be liable to the original plaintiff, was conclusive against the plaintiff in the subsequent action. It was held that the judgment in the original action was conclusive that there was no liability on the part of the successful defendant to the original plaintiff, and hence no common liability as to him upon which a suit for contribution could be based.
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol41/iss3/10