A married couple, Dorothy and
Clarence Schwartz, and their sister-in-law Adelia were involved in a car
accident with Swan.
Ten days later, Dorothy and
Clarence were involved in another car accident, this time with Polivick and Bray.
Dorothy sued both Polvick and
Swan together, since they were unable to determine which accident caused
which medical problems.
Clarence joined the lawsuit,
suing for loss of consortium.
Adelia joined the lawsuit
for injuries stemming from the second accident.
Bray, Polvick, and Swan filed
motions for severance of the
complaints into separate lawsuits.
Bray and Polvick argued that
issues involving two separate accidents would prejudice the right to a
Swan argued that there were
two separate causes of action, different defendants, different facts, and
it would be two confusing to argue as one case.
The Trial judge severed the
cases. There would be one case for the first accident and one case for
the second accident.
The claims of the multiple
plaintiffs were joined for each of the two cases.
The Trial Court for the first
accident found for the defendants. The Schwartzs appealed on the basis
that the cases should never have been severed.
The Appellate Court reversed
and remanded for a new trial.
The Appellate Court found
that since the complaint clearly asserts a liability arising out of the
series of transactions alleged, Illinois State civil procedure authorizes
the joinder of the defendants.
Unless you could show which
of Dorothy's injuries could be attributed to which accident with
The Court found
that if you had two separate trials, the defense at both trials would be,
"Dorothy's injuries happened in the other accident." It would
be almost impossible for her to win a verdict.
The technical term for this
is a whipsaw.
Illinois State Civil
Procedure states that, "more than one judgment may be rendered in
the same cause." Meaning that it would be possible for the Trial
Court to find some defendants liable and others not. Everybody would get
a fair trial.
This case was decided on
Illinois State civil procedure rules, but they are similar to the Federal
rules. See Rule 20, Rule
21, and Rule 42.