D inadvertently pushed the floor mat in his car under the throttle. Engine began to race, and he hit P.
Expert testimony showed that the floor mat was defective and caused the brake failure. This was Ford's fault.
Prior to trial, Ps settled with Ford for $150k in exchange for a release from any claim.
Ds made contribution and indemnity claims against Ford.
Trial court dismissed D's contribution and indemnity claims.
MA COA affirmed.
May a settling D be held liable in contribution or indemnity by another D?
A settling D may not be held liable in contribution or indemnity by another D as long as the settlement was made in good faith and there was no collusion.
There were facts presented that proved that the settlement between Ford and Ps was fair and reasonable. D was drinking, so it is possible that the jury might have found Ford to not be liable at all.
A proposed settlement showed that Ps would settle for $300k, $150k from each party; D refused. This is evidence that the $150k settlement figure is valid.
The purpose of the contribution statute is to promote settlement.
A low settlement figure alone is not sufficient to prove bad faith.
Indemnity allows someone who is without fault, compelled by operation of law to defend himself against the wrongful act of another, to recover from the wrongdoer the entire amount of his loss.
It is permitted only when the would-be indemnitee does not join in the negligent act.
The jury ruled that D was solely negligent for the harm; thus, D is not entitled to indemnification from Ford. If Ford had remained in the case, any liability on its part would have been as a joint tortfeasor, and contribution would have been required. Indemnity would not have been appropriate.
Contribution and indemnity are mutually exclusive remedies.