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'Deep Pockets, Deep Dilemma'

April 23, 1985

Your editorial regarding the applicability to the state and municipalities of the joint and several liability rule was not only an attempt to put saving money ahead of compensating those injured by negligence, it also misconstrued the concept of fault in tort law.

Although fault in everyday usage reflects a moral judgment, it has no such implications in tort law. In the realm of civil liability, fault is a shorthand way of describing conduct that falls below the standard of care of a reasonable person irrespective of the subjective motives of the actor.

Thus, describing negligent drivers as "guilty" totally misses the point, and is a calculated attempt to misdirect public opinion. Instead of worrying about the millions that California and its municipalities are compelled to spend to make the lives of paraplegics somewhat more bearable, The Times should be lobbying for the design and construction of safer highways. That would not only save state and local governments money spent in liability judgments, but also result in safer transportation for all of us.

C. HENRY BROWN II

Los Angeles

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