Torts II, Pages 412–413

Yellow Cab Co. of D.C., Inc. v. Dreslin

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 1950

Facts:

Dreslin was in auto accident with Dreslin's taxi. Dreslin's wife and others were injured in the crash. Dreslin, his wife, and the passengers sued defendant. Defendant pled contributory negligence and cross-claimed defendant for their damages and for his contribution for any sums recovered by other parties.

Procedural History:

The jury's verdict established that the crash was caused by Dreslin and defendant's concurrent negligence. Accordingly, judgments were entered for all other plaintiffs, while a declaratory judgment was entered allowing the defendant contribution against Dreslin, except for Mrs. Dreslin. Mrs. Dreslin's was withheld because Dreslin was not liable in tort to his wife.

Issue:

Can a person be liable in tort against his spouse?

Rule/Holding:

Neither husband nor wife is liable for tortious acts by one against the other.

Note:

This is no longer a rule.

Reasoning:

Contribution arises out of a common liability. As Dreslin was not liable to his wife, no contribution could arise from such a joint liability.

Judgment:

Affirmed.

Takeaway:

Bell: Non-immune tortfeasors cannot collect contribution from immune tortfeasors.

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