California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1431.2

Civil Code section 1431.2 was enacted as part of the Fair Responsibility Act of 1986 (popularly known as Proposition 51). It provides: "In any action for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, based upon principles of comparative fault, the liability of each defendant for non-economic damages shall be several only and shall not be joint. Each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of non-economic damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant's percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall be rendered against that defendant for that amount." (Civ. Code, 1431.2, subd. (a).) Code of Civil Procedure section 877 governs offsets for pretrial settlements reached with joint tortfeasors. It provides in pertinent part: "Where a release, dismissal with or without prejudice, or a covenant not to sue or not to enforce judgment is given in good faith before verdict or judgment to one or more of a number of tortfeasors claimed to be liable for the same tort . . . it shall have the following effect: (a) It shall not discharge any other such party from liability unless its terms so provide, but it shall reduce the claims against the others in the amount stipulated by the release, the dismissal or the covenant, or in the amount of the consideration paid for it whichever is the greater." The basic principles governing the interplay between Civil Code section 1431.2 and Code of Civil Procedure section 877 are now well established. (See generally, Poire v. C.L. Peck/Jones Brothers Construction Corp. (1995) 39 Cal. App. 4th 1832, 1838 46 Cal. Rptr. 2d 631 (Poire).) Under Civil Code section 1431.2, a defendant is only responsible for its share of noneconomic damages as that share has been determined by the jury. "Therefore, a nonsettling defendant may not receive any setoff under Code of Civil Procedure section 877 for the portion of a settlement by another defendant that is attributable to noneconomic damages." (39 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1838.) After application of Civil Code section 1431.2, ". . . there is no amount that represents a common claim for noneconomic damages against the settling and nonsettling defendants" and thus Code of Civil Procedure section 877 has no applicability to noneconomic damages. (Hoch v. Allied-Signal, Inc. (1994) 24 Cal. App. 4th 48.)