In the exercise of our supervisory jurisdiction (Art. VII, Sec. 11, La.Const. of 1921), we directed Certiorari to the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, in order that we might review its judgment which maintained motions filed by General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation, Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as General Accident) to dismiss the appeals taken by Peter Bertucci and Agricultural Insurance Company (hereinafter referred to as Agricultural), insofar as said appeals affected General Accident (244 La. 156, 150 So.2d 771; La.App., 150 So.2d 94).
Alleging that his minor daughter, Debra Marie Emmons, was injured in a collision between automobiles driven by Peter Bertucci and Mrs. Barbara Ann Emmons on November 16, 1960, Stanley Emmons brought suit on November 13, 1961, against
The trial court rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff, individually, and against Peter Bertucci and Agricultural, in solido, in the sum of $609.50;
In his reasons for judgment, the trial judge stated that the accident occurred when the Bertucci vehicle ran into the rear of the Emmons vehicle; he was satisfied that the accident resulted from the negligence of the defendant Bertucci.
In his capacity as administrator of the estate of his minor daughter, plaintiff, Stanley Emmons, appealed from that part of the judgment of the trial court which concerned the claims of the minor, Debra Marie Emmons; he acquiesced in the judgment insofar as it dismissed his suit against General Accident (the liability insurer of Mrs. Barbara Ann Emmons) in both his individual capacity and as administrator of the minor.
Agricultural and Peter Bertucci appealed from the judgment of the trial court, averring that they were aggrieved by (1) that part of the judgment against them, in solido, in the sums of $100.00 and $609.50, and (2) that part of the judgment in favor of General Accident and against Stanley Emmons, dismissing plaintiff's suit at his costs.
The motions, supra, filed by General Accident to dismiss the appeals of Peter Bertucci and Agricultural were accompanied by brief, wherein it was alleged:
The Court of Appeal sustained the motions with the following holding:
"* * * We hold that where two or more defendants are sued as solidary
The decision of the Court of Appeal was predicated on its interpretation of Article 2103 of LSA-Revised Civil Code, as amended by Acts 1960, No. 30, Sec. 1, which recites:
In this Court, counsel for relators contend that the Court of Appeal erred in its interpretation of Article 2103. They further urge that said court was in error in failing to follow the decision of the Court of Appeal, Third Circuit, in the case of Vidrine v. Simoneaux, 145 So.2d 400.
Counsel for respondent General Accident contend that where a solidary judgment is sought against two defendants as joint tort-feasors, a judgment relieving one of liability cannot be questioned on appeal by the defendant cast in judgment unless a Third-Party Demand was instituted in the trial court between the co-defendants. (In the instant matter, this was not done.)
We might say that the issue presented for our determination (in its simplest form) is an interpretation of Article 2103, LSA-R.C.C., anent the right of appeal of one defendant against his co-defendant where no third-party pleading was filed by appellant in the trial court.
In Kahn v. Urania Lumber Company, 1958, 103 So.2d 476, decided by the Court of Appeal, Second Circuit, the defendant appealed from a judgment in a tort action which dismissed its third-party petition against plaintiff and his insurer. The court had two propositions presented to it: First, the right vel non of a tort-feasor to contribution from a joint tort-feasor; and, secondly, if it should be determined as a general rule a joint tort-feasor is without right to such contribution from a joint tortfeasor whether the Third-Party Practice Act, Act No. 433 of 1954 (LSA-R.S. 13:3381 et seq.) effected a change in the substantive law of Louisiana so as to grant or confer the right of contribution as between joint tort-feasors so as now to permit an alleged tort-feasor to be brought into an action for damages on the basis of contribution or otherwise by the other tort-feasor who is alone sued in the original action. The court reviewed, in detail, the jurisprudence of this State with respect to the issues presented; it stated:
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In the Kahn Case, the court concluded: (1) that as a general rule between joint tort-feasors as such there is no right of contribution until and unless they have been condemned in solido in an action by the injured party and then only in favor of the one who has paid the judgments; (2) that the Third-Party Practice Act is procedural in character and does not effect any change in the substantive laws of this State, particularly as pertains to the relationship of joint tort-feasors; and, (3) that the defendant, having no right to contribution from the alleged joint tort-feasors, had neither disclosed nor stated a cause of action against the parties sought to be made third-party defendants.
The above case crystallized temporarily the jurisprudence of this State with respect to the matter involved, Cf., Waggonner v. Allstate Insurance Company, La.App., 128 So.2d 214; however, on January 1, 1961, Act 30 of 1960, Article 2103, LSA-R.C.C., supra, became effective (Brown v. New Amsterdam Casualty Company, 243 La. 271, 142 So.2d 796), and interpretations were demanded thereunder. In an explanatory note to the amended Article 2103,
In 1962, the Court of Appeal, Third Circuit, decided the case of Vidrine v. Simoneaux, 145 So.2d 400. The facts therein were identical to those of the present matter, with the exception that a third-party action was taken against the defendant Stelly in the trial court. The trial court rejected plaintiff's demands against Stelly and dismissed the third-party action. Plaintiff did not appeal; defendant Simoneaux appealed, contending that his appeal brought the defendant Stelly before the appellate court. The Court of Appeal agreed with the contention of Simoneaux, placing little or no emphasis on the fact that Stelly had been named in a third-party pleading filed in the matter; it stated:
Appeal is the exercise of the right of a party to have a judgment of a trial court revised, modified, set aside, or reversed by an appellate court. LSA-C.C.P., Article 2082.
A person who could have intervened in the trial court may appeal, whether or not any other appeal has been taken. LSA-C.C.P., Article 2086. The sole object of an appeal is to give an aggrieved party to a suit recourse to a superior tribunal for the correction of a judgment of an inferior court, and such right is extended not only to the parties to the suit in which the judgment is rendered, but also to a third-party when such third party is allegedly aggrieved by the judgment. Reid v. Monticello, 215 La. 444, 40 So.2d 814. Any one aggrieved by the judgment of a trial court has the right to appeal, unless he has acquiesced therein, or is otherwise deprived of that remedy. White v. White, 153 La. 313, 95 So. 791. A party to a suit is given an unqualified right to appeal from adverse final judgment and need not allege and show a direct pecuniary interest in order to be entitled to appeal. Krauss Company v. Develle, 235 La. 1013, 106 So.2d 452.
Plaintiff, as administrator of the estate of his minor daughter, is allegedly aggrieved by the judgment of the trial court, insofar as quantum is concerned, and has appealed in this respect. (It is possible that his award of $100.00, supra, for the use and benefit of his minor daughter could be increased and such increase assessed against relators.) The record is whole and is replete with testimony concerning Debra Marie Emmons' scalp condition; as stated previously, the trial court found no causal connection between the condition and the accident; it is possible that this finding could be reversed on appeal, since plaintiff strenuously denies its correctness.
An examination of Article 2103 discloses that its terms are directory and not mandatory. It recites that a defendant may seek to enforce contribution by making his solidary co-debtor a third party. There is no penalty imposed for failure to follow its provisions. A defendant who does not call in his co-debtor as a third-party defendant maintains rights under Articles 1111-1116, LSA-C.C.P. Cf. Perot v. United States Casualty Co., La.App., 98 So.2d 584.
This Court has always followed the rule that it would not impute to a statute a meaning which would lead to an absurd result or extend to a statute a situation which the Legislature never intended to be covered thereby. Smith v. Town of Vinton, 209 La. 587, 25 So.2d 237; City of New Orleans v. Leeco, Inc., 226 La. 335, 76 So.2d 387; Thompson v. Pest Control Commission, La.App., 75 So.2d 406.
If we were to hold that Bertucci and Agricultural had no right of appeal herein against General Accident, we would be compelling them to have the question of negligence tried anew and perhaps then appealed; we would be attributing to the plaintiff the right to control the appeal and, so to speak, deprive relators of rights vested in them under the Constitution. When plaintiff named General Accident as a party defendant, General Accident was in the case; relators did not necessarily have to rename it as co-defendant in order to assert the solidary co-debtorship claim if liability is found to exist. To ascribe to Article 2103, LSA-R.C.C., the meaning which General Accident sets forth and urges would produce absurd results, bring about useless actions, and generate a multiplicity of suits which the law abhors. State v. Garner, 238 La. 563, 115 So.2d 855; State v. Smalling, 240 La. 887, 125 So.2d 399.
We conclude that the appeal taken by Bertucci and Agricultural brings their codefendant General Accident before the appellate court; such appeal was tantamount to filing a third-party action. Article 2103, LSA-R.C.C., contains the words "if he is cast", and by taking the appeal appellants Bertucci and Agricultural were continuing to deny liability on the obligation sued on by plaintiff and consequently came within the provisions of the article. It is, therefore, proper for the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, to consider and determine, on the present appeal, the liability vel non of General Accident and other related matters among the parties as concerns the instant demand.
For the reasons assigned, the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, dismissing the appeals taken by Peter Bertucci