Brown v Superior Court: 1988

(Supreme Court of California) The court considered the ‘market share doctrine’ for apportioning liability between tortfeasors: ‘In creating the market share doctrine, this court attempted to fashion a remedy for persons injured by a drug taken by their mothers a generation ago, making identification of the manufacturer impossible in many cases. We realised that in order to provide relief for an injured DES daughter faced with this dilemma, we would have to allow recovery of damages against some defendants which may not have manufactured the drug that caused the damage. . . Each defendant would be held liable for the proportion of the judgment represented by its market share, and its overall liability for injuries caused by DES would approximate the injuries caused by the DES it manufactured. A DES manufacturer found liable under this approach would not be held responsible for injuries caused by another producer of the drug. The opinion acknowledged that only an approximation of a manufacturer’s liability could be achieved by this procedure, but underlying our holding was a recognition that such a result was preferable to denying recover altogether to plaintiffs injured by DES.
It is apparent that the imposition of joint liability on defendants in a market share action would be inconsistent with this rationale. Any defendant could be held responsible for the entire judgment even though its market share may have been comparatively insignificant. Liability would in the first instance be measured not by the likelihood of responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries but by the financial ability of a defendant to undertake payment of the entire judgment or a large portion of it.’


(1988) 751 P 2d 470


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedBarker v Corus (UK) Plc HL 3-May-2006
The claimants sought damages after contracting meselothemia working for the defendants. The defendants argued that the claimants had possibly contracted the disease at any one or more different places. The Fairchild case set up an exception to the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

International, Damages

Updated: 07 May 2022; Ref: scu.241494