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What Is A Fabre Defendant?


Sometimes when suing people for negligence, the parties being sued like to point the finger. A store that’s blamed for poorly maintaining a floor, will blame the cleaning company. A driver that rear ends your car, will blame the car behind them. Pointing the finger tends to be a natural human reaction.

But in personal injury cases, pointing the finger can have significant consequences. A defendant is allowed to point the finger—or say that someone other than them, is responsible for your injuries. Ignoring their allegations can lead to big trouble down the road.

Third Party Defendants

When a Defendant says that someone else is responsible, and that someone else has not been sued, that someone else—also known as a “third party”—is called a Fabre Defendant (named after a case with that name). You, as a victim suing for injuries then have to choose whether to sue the third party, adding them to the lawsuit, or to ignore the Defendant’s allegations.

But ignoring those allegations can lead to consequences down the road. That’s because a jury can apportion liability to the Defendant that you didn’t name. And whatever responsibility or liability the jury thinks that un—named Defendant has, is money you, as the victim, won’t get.

Apportionment Example

Let’s look at a typical example. You sue a shopping mall, alleging negligent security when you are attacked in the parking lot. The shopping mall says “wait, we hired a private security company to protect our customers—they are the ones responsible for not securing the property.”

You do not name that private security company as a Defendant in your lawsuit.

Your case goes to trial. At trial, a jury says your injuries are worth $100,000, and finds the shopping mall 10% responsible, and the security company 90% responsible.

But because you never added the security company to the lawsuit, the most you will be able to recover of your $100,000, is $10,000—the shopping mall’s 10%.

Pay Attention to Third Party Allegations

This is why it is so important for a personal injury attorney to pay attention to the Defendant’s response to the Complaint. That’s where the Defendant will say that another third party should bear some responsibility. The victim/Plaintiff can then opt to add the un-sued Defendant. Problems can arise when that unnamed Defendant cannot be found, or served, but those problems are best dealt with earlier, as opposed to later on in a lawsuit.

Defendants often do this, because they want to point the finger, and lessen their own liability. Sometimes they aren’t allowed to do this—such as when there is a non-delegable duty, or a duty that the law doesn’t allow a Defendant to pawn off on someone else. If that’s the case, your Tampa personal injury attorney should make a motion to eliminate that defense, preventing it from being used at trial.

Schedule a consultation today with Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian to help you in your personal injury case, and to determine who may be at fault for your injuries.

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