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Herman v. Westgate

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Robert Herman (Herman) sued Thomas, John, and James Hauck (Defendants) for concerted action after sustaining injuries that resulted from being thrown into a barge owned by the Defendants.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A person can be held liable for crimes caused by others if he participated in a joint activity with other tortfeasors, even if the defendant did not individually participate in the injury-causing action.

    Facts.

    Robert Herman (Herman) was the guest of a bachelor party that was being hosted at a barge owned by Thomas, John, and James Hauck (Defendants). Herman was subsequently injured after being thrown into the barge and sued the Defendants and others for joint action on the part of the Defendants. The lower courts granted judgment to the Defendants and Herman appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a person can be held liable for crime caused by others if he did not participate in the injury-causing action but participated in a joint activity with the remainder of the tortfeasors?

    Held.

    Yes. Reversed.

    Discussion.

    Concerted action liability holds all defendants liable when a group of people collectively commits a tortious act. In this case, the tortious act was throwing guests into the pool. It is irrelevant whether the defendant caused the individual harm to the plaintiff if the defendant participated in the concerted activity. Summary judgment is improper because the jury must determine whether a group of defendants acted in concert.


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