ARS 12-2504 Interpretation

In Law v. Verde Valley Medical Center, 217 Ariz. 92, 96,13, 170 P.3d 701, 705 (App. 2007), the Court held 12-2504 did not allow a plaintiff to pursue a vicarious liability claim against an employer after she dismissed claims against the employee-tortfeasors. 217 Ariz. at 96,16, 170 P.3d at 705. The Court explained the statute did not preserve the claim against the employer (the principal) because a principal being sued for vicarious liability is not a "true joint tortfeasor under Arizona law." Id. Accordingly, the directive in 12-2504(1) that a release "does not discharge any of the other tortfeasors from liability" did not apply. Id. In Roland v. Bernstein, 171 Ariz. 96, 97, 828 P.2d 1237, 1238 (App. 1991), the Court held 12-2504 does not apply in a several-liability situation, in which each defendant is liable only to the extent of its own fault. 171 Ariz. at 97-98, 828 P.2d at 1238-39. In that circumstance, a settlement with one defendant necessarily does not affect the liability of another, so 12-2504 is irrelevant. Id. at 97, 828 P.2d at 1238. The fact that the legislature did not amend or repeal 12-2504 when it all but abolished joint-and-several liability in 1987 must mean the statute still applies in the handful of remaining situations in which liability is joint. Neil v. Kavena, 176 Ariz. 93, 97, n.4, 859 P.2d 203, 207, n.4 (App. 1993). In such situations, a release that a claimant gives to one defendant does not discharge any other joint tortfeasor, although the claims against the remaining joint tortfeasors are reduced by the amount of the settlement.