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Leung v. Verdugo Hills Hospital

California Supreme Court
282 P.3d 1250 (2012)


Aidan Leung (plaintiff) suffered brain damage shortly after birth. Leung sued his pediatrician and the hospital (defendants). Before trial, Leung settled with the pediatrician for the pediatrician’s insurance-policy limits of $1 million. The pediatrician asked the trial court to declare that the settlement was in good faith. The court declined, finding that $1 million was way less than the pediatrician was likely to owe for his share of the liability. The jury ultimately awarded Leung approximately $15 million in economic damages. Less the $1 million already paid, this left $14 million due. The jury allocated fault at: 55 percent for the pediatrician, 40 percent for the hospital, and 5 percent for Leung’s parents. Because the defendants were jointly and severally liable, either defendant could be required to pay the entire amount that both defendants owed. Accordingly, the only remaining defendant, the hospital, owed 95 percent of the $14 million still due. The hospital appealed. The Court of Appeal held that, under the common-law release rule, Leung’s settlement with the pediatrician had also completely released the nonsettling hospital. Thus, the hospital owed Leung nothing. Leung petitioned the California Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennard, J.)

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