Contribution – Joint Liability – Claimant Not a Volunteer But Not Subject to a Common Liability

A passenger was injured while riding in an automobile driven by D when it collided with a car driven by C. In the passenger’s action for damages against C, C cross-complained against D. On the day of trial C settled with the passenger with the knowledge and approval of D. In the ensuing suit for contribution both C and D denied negligence; the jury found that D was negligent and that C was in no way at fault. Since there was no common liability shown, C‘s claim for contribution was dismissed. C moved to have the court find him negligent as a matter of law, but the motion was denied. On appeal, held, reversed. While contribution is a right generally limited to persons under a mutual obligation, it is appropriately applied to one not under a common liability but who had not acted officiously in discharging another’s obligation. Rusch v. Korth, (Wis. 1957) 86 N.W. (2d) 464.