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Franck v. Polaris E-Z Go Div. of Textron, Inc.

California Court of Appeal
204 Cal. Rptr. 321 (1984)


Facts

After being injured in a snowmobile accident, Jan Franck (plaintiff) brought a lawsuit in a California state court against the snowmobile’s manufacturer, Polaris E-Z Go Div. of Textron, Inc. (Polaris); its driver, Todd Weichers; its owner, Robert Weichers; and the snowmobile’s seller (defendants). Prior to trial, Franck settled with Todd and Robert Weichers and the snowmobile’s seller. The seller settled for a lump sum payment of $2,500. The Weichers settled for a total of $215,000, to be paid over time under the terms of a structured settlement: $25,000 was due upon court approval of the settlement and the remaining $190,000 was to be paid periodically from 1983 to 2000. In order to fund the future payments, the Weichers’ insurer purchased an annuity contract for $75,000. The settlement was approved by the court. Franck prevailed at trial against Polaris and was awarded a judgment of $300,000. Both Franck and Polaris asked the court to determine Polaris’s obligation in light of Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 877(a), which provided that the damages assessed to a nonsettling tortfeasor should be reduced by the amount paid in settlement by joint tortfeasors. Franck contended that the amount of reduction should be based on the present cash value of the amounts to be paid by the settling parties. Polaris argued that its judgment should be reduced by the total amount to be paid. The trial court ruled in favor of Polaris. Franck appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Carr, J.)

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