Where an initial tortfeasor settles in a successive negligence case, the non-settling tortfeasors do not get a credit at trial, says the New Jersey Appellate Division. The court held in Glassman v. Friedel , that non-settling successive tortfeasors are not entitled to a pro tanto credit after the initial tortfeasor settles and its negligence is undetermined. Rather, successive tortfeasors have the burden at trial to demonstrate that (1) the initial tortfeasor was negligent, and (2) the initial tortfeasor’s negligence was the proximate cause of the second event.
In Glassman, the plaintiff, as executor of his deceased wife’s estate, sued a restaurant and property owner of the site where his wife fell and fractured her ankle. Afterwards, the plaintiff added defendants including the doctors and the medical center that cared for his wife after she fractured her ankle. The plaintiff alleged that they had been negligent during his wife’s surgery, which led to postoperative complications and injuries to his wife’s leg, ultimately resulting in a fatal pulmonary embolism.