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Great West Casualty Co. v. Fletcher

Filed: March 2, 1982.

GREAT WEST CASUALTY COMPANY
v.
C. W. FLETCHER D/B/A FLETCHER TRUCKING COMPANY



Appeal by defendant from Lambeth, Judge. Judgment filed 19 February 1981 in District Court, New Hanover County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 February 1982.

Martin (Harry C.), Judge. Chief Judge Morris and Judge Vaughn concur.

Martin

Under full faith and credit, our courts are bound by the Tennessee judgment finding plaintiff and defendant jointly and severally liable. U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. Moreover, as a general rule, the right of one tort-feasor to obtain contribution from another tort-feasor is a substantive right and hence is governed by the law of the place of the tort. See 18 Am. Jur. 2d Contribution § 44 (1965). The choice of law rule of North Carolina adheres to this general principle. See Tatham v. Hoke, 469 F. Supp. 914 (W.D.N.C. 1979). Thus the law of Tennessee governs the disposition of the case.

The issues raised by defendant with respect to the effect of the lease agreement on his liability were raised and fully litigated before the Tennessee courts and decided against defendant. Herron v. Fletcher, 503 S.W. 2d 84 (Tenn. 1973). Moreover, defendant in the North Carolina case failed to present at trial, and has failed to include in the record on appeal, a copy of the lease agreement purportedly relieving him of financial liability under the Tennessee judgment.

Tennessee has adopted the Uniform Contribution Among Tort-Feasors Act. Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-11-101 to --106.

The following provisions of the statute are pertinent to our determination.

29-11-103. Determination of pro rata shares. -- In determining the pro rata shares of tort-feasors in the entire liability:

(1) Their relative degrees of fault shall not be considered;

(2) If equity requires, the collective liability of some as a group shall constitute a single share; and

(3) Principles of equity applicable to contribution generally shall apply.

29-11-104. Enforcement of contribution -- Procedure -- Limitation

(f) The judgment of a court in determining the liability of the several defendants to a claimant for an injury or wrongful death after trial on the merits, shall be binding among such defendants in ...


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