November 09, 2021

The Culpable Co-Defendant Problem: How to Preserve Your Client’s Defenses After a Culpable Co-Defendant Files a Motion for Summary Judgment in California State Court

Faegre Drinker on Products Blog

Defense attorneys involved in California multi-defendant product liability lawsuits are familiar with the challenge of properly balancing the need to preserve their clients’ defenses with the strategic importance of maintaining cooperation among co-defendants.  In many cases, co-defendants’ interests are aligned, and they find the strategic benefits of cooperation outweigh any benefits of finger-pointing amongst one another.  Indeed, co-defendant infighting is risky on several fronts—it can help the plaintiffs, increase defense costs, create animosity among possible business partners, and chill future cooperation with defendants who regularly blame their co-defendants.  Inevitably, however, cases arise that involve a culpable co-defendant and a client wants to preserve its ability to attribute fault to the co-defendant at trial.  This issue becomes complex and the specific language of California Code of Civil Procedure Section 437c(l) comes into play when the co-defendant seeks no-fault summary judgment.

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