In Walters v. Hiab Hydraulics, Inc., the court held that a seller who is strictly liable for unreasonably dangerous defects in his product has a right to seek contribution from a party whose liability for damages arises solely through negligence. In W.D. Rubright Co. v. International Harvester Co., the court held that the converse is also true-that a party whose liability arises solely from negligence has a right to seek contribution from a manufacturer whose liability arises solely under theories of strict liability for unreasonably dangerous defects in his product.
While the two cases appear to be concerned with opposite sides of the same coin, in fact each one standing alone represents the whole coin itself. This is because contribution, unlike indemnity, is a two-way street. To hold that a party who is strictly liable has a right to seek contribution from a party who is negligently liable is also to hold that a negligent party can seek contribution from strict liability defendants. Once a court holds that a right to contribution exists between different parties, either party, once liable to the primary plaintiff, can seek contribution from the other.
"Walters v. Hiab Hydraulics, Inc. and W.D. Rubright Co. v. International Harvester Co.: Contributions in Products Liability Cases,"
Hofstra Law Review: Vol. 2
, Article 19.
Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/hlr/vol2/iss2/19