Knell v. Feltman


Victims were guest passengers in a car owned and operated by (Knell) in which another driver in a taxicab (owned and operated by Feltman)…Victims sued Feltman, upon which, Feltman impleaded a third party (Knell).

–          Upon a jury verdict, $11,500 in total damages towards Feltman, in which his impleader claim towards Knell showed that knell owed 5,570 in damages aswell

–          Knell (Plaintiff) – argues that he should not be accountable because the victims did not allege him to be a joint tortfeasor:

  • However, the jury, in its special interogitories showed that both defendants were negligent, but the plaintiffs did not allege that Knell was a tortfeasor.
  • Tortfeasors should only be liable in common to the plaintiff.


Is Feltman to be denied contribution from Knell because the plaintiffs did not allege him as a joint tortfeasor?




*** When a tort is committed by concurrent negligence by two or more people who are not intentional wrongdoers, contribution should be enforced; that a joint judgmenti against such tortfeasor is not a prerequisite to contribution between them, and is immaterial where they were, or any of them was, personally negligent.***

Court reasoning

–          The right to seek contribution belongs to the tortfeasor who has been forced to pay

–          Not fair, if both defendants are negligent.

–          Would open the door for collusion and unfair defendants.

–          There is not joint contribution between tortfeasors when the original tort was an intentional action on behalf of one of them.

–          Must distinguish between intentional tortfeasors and negligent tortfeasors.

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