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Horvitz & Levy is a solutions-based firm focused on appellate success. We are distinguished by our commitment to responsive service and on-going innovation in the areas of civil appellate litigation, amicus curiae support, and trial strategy consultation.

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August 12, 2020

Decedent was killed after deputy sheriffs attempted to subdue and restrain him during an arrest. His family sued for battery, negligence, and wrongful death. The jury found one of the deputies liable for battery and allocated to that deputy 20 percent of the responsibility for decedent’s death. Despite this allocation, the trial court entered judgment against the deputy for 100 percent of the noneconomic damages because his liability was based on commission of an intentional tort. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court and held that Civil Code section 1431.2 required reduction of the deputy’s liability for noneconomic damages based on principles of comparative fault.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal, holding that allocation of fault under section 1431.2 applies only to negligent, not intentional, tortfeasors. “California principles of comparative fault have never required or authorized the reduction of an intentional tortfeasor’s liability based on the acts of others.”