TITLE LII
ACTIONS, PROCESS, AND SERVICE OF PROCESS

Chapter 507
ACTIONS

General Provisions

Section 507:1

    507:1 Repealed by 1973, 378:2, eff. Aug. 29, 1973. –

Section 507:2

    507:2 Cotenants; Generally. – One cotenant of real estate may recover, in an action of assumpsit against another, for his share of any trees, fixtures or other part of the estate destroyed, severed or carried away by the other.

Source. RS 180:5. CS 191:6. GS 201:3. GL 220:3. PS 216:3. PL 328:7. RL 384:7.

Section 507:3

    507:3 Cotenants; Income. – One cotenant of real estate may recover, in an action of assumpsit, from another taking the income thereof without his consent, and wrongfully withholding the same, all damages he may sustain thereby.

Source. RS 180:5. CS 191:6. GS 201:4. GL 220:4. PS 216:4. PL 328:8. RL 384:8.

Section 507:4

    507:4 Erroneous Levy, New Suit. – Whenever an execution is returned, satisfied in whole or in part by an extent or levy upon estate or property not liable to be taken upon the execution, an action of debt may be brought upon the judgment, within 6 years after the extent or levy, for the amount equitably due and the costs of levying.

Source. RS 180:3. CS 191:4. GS 201:5. GL 220:5. PS 216:5. PL 328:9. RL 384:9.

Section 507:5

    507:5 For Official Default. – Sheriffs, constables and other officers liable for default or misconduct in office shall be held to answer for the damages in an action on the case, and in no other form.

Source. RS 180:12. CS 191:13. GS 201:6. GL 220:6. PS 216:6. PL 328:10. RL 384:10.

Section 507:6

    507:6 Escape, Recovery Over. – A person compelled to pay damages for the escape of a prisoner in his custody may recover the same of the prisoner escaping or of others aiding the escape.

Source. RS 180:11. CS 191:12. GS 201:7. GL 220:7. PS 216:7. PL 328:11. RL 384:11.

Section 507:7

    507:7 False Checks, Etc. – Any person who makes, draws, utters or delivers any check, draft or order for the payment of money upon any bank or other depository, knowing that the maker or drawer has not sufficient funds in or credit with such bank or other depository for the payment thereof, and which is not paid in full upon presentation, shall be liable to the person injured thereby.

Source. 1917, 55:1. PL 328:12. RL 384:12. RSA 507:7. 1971, 227:5, eff. Aug. 17, 1971.

Section 507:7-a

    507:7-a Repealed by 1986, 227:24, eff. July 1, 1986. –

Section 507:7-b

    507:7-b Repealed by 1986, 227:24, eff. July 1, 1986. –

Section 507:7-c

    507:7-c Repealed by 1986, 227:24, eff. July 1, 1986. –

Comparative Fault, Apportionment of Damages, and Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Section 507:7-d

    507:7-d Comparative Fault. – Contributory fault shall not bar recovery in an action by any plaintiff or plaintiff's legal representative, to recover damages in tort for death, personal injury or property damage, if such fault was not greater than the fault of the defendant, or the defendants in the aggregate if recovery is allowed against more than one defendant, but the damages awarded shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to the plaintiff by general verdict. The burden of proof as to the existence or amount of fault attributable to a party shall rest upon the party making such allegation.

Source. 1986, 227:2, eff. July 1, 1986.

Section 507:7-e

    507:7-e Apportionment of Damages. –
I. In all actions, the court shall:
(a) Instruct the jury to determine, or if there is no jury shall find, the amount of damages to be awarded to each claimant and against each defendant in accordance with the proportionate fault of each of the parties; and
(b) Enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of the rules of joint and several liability, except that if any party shall be less than 50 percent at fault, then that party's liability shall be several and not joint and he shall be liable only for the damages attributable to him.
(c) RSA 507:7-e, I(b) notwithstanding, in all cases where parties are found to have knowingly pursued or taken active part in a common plan or design resulting in the harm, grant judgment against all such parties on the basis of the rules of joint and several liability.
II. In all actions, the damages attributable to each party shall be determined by general verdict, unless the parties agree otherwise, or due to the presence of multiple parties or complex issues the court finds the use of special questions necessary to the determination. In any event, the questions submitted to the jury shall be clear, concise, and as few in number as practicable, and shall not prejudice the rights of any party to a fair trial.
III. For purposes of contribution under RSA 507:7-f and RSA 507:7-g, the court shall also determine each defendant's proportionate share of the obligation to each claimant in accordance with the verdict and subject to any reduction under RSA 507:7-i. Upon motion filed not later than 60 days after final judgment is entered, the court shall determine whether all or part of a defendant's proportionate share of the obligation is uncollectible from that defendant and shall reallocate any uncollectible amount among the other defendants according to their proportionate shares. The party whose liability is reallocated is nonetheless subject to contribution and to any continuing liability to the claimant on the judgment.
IV. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to modify or limit the duties, responsibilities, or liabilities of any party for personal injury or property damage arising from pollutant contamination, containment, cleanup, removal or restoration as established under state public health or environmental statutes including, but not limited to, RSA 146-A, RSA 147-A and RSA 147-B.

Source. 1986, 227:2. 1989, 278:1-3, eff. Jan. 1, 1990.

Section 507:7-f

    507:7-f Contribution Among Tortfeasors. –
I. Except as provided in paragraph II, a right of contribution exists between or among 2 or more persons who are jointly and severally liable upon the same indivisible claim, or otherwise liable for the same injury, death or harm, whether or not judgment has been recovered against all or any of them. Except as provided in RSA 507:7-g, I and IV, the right of contribution may be enforced only by a separate action brought for that purpose. The basis for contribution is each person's share of the obligation, including the proportionate share of the claimant at fault as determined in accordance with the provisions of RSA 507:7-e. No right of contribution exists against a person who is immune to the claim which would otherwise give rise to a right of contribution. No right of contribution exists against the claimant at fault.
II. Contribution is not available to a person who enters into a settlement with a claimant unless the settlement extinguishes the liability of the person from whom contribution is sought, and then only to the extent that the amount paid in settlement was reasonable.

Source. 1986, 227:2, eff. July 1, 1986.

Section 507:7-g

    507:7-g Enforcement of Contribution. –
I. If the proportionate fault of the parties to a claim for contribution has been established as provided in RSA 507:7-e, a party paying more than its proportionate share of the obligation may recover judgment for contribution upon motion in the same action, or by separate action.
II. If the proportionate fault of the parties to the claim for contribution has not been established, contribution may be enforced in a separate action, whether or not a judgment has been rendered against either the person seeking contribution or the person from whom contribution is being sought.
III. If a judgment has been rendered, the action for contribution must be commenced within one year after the judgment becomes final. If no judgment has been rendered, the person bringing the action for contribution must have either (a) discharged by payment the common liability within the period of the statute of limitations applicable to the claimant's right of action against that person and commenced the action for contribution within one year after payment, or (b) agreed while action was pending to discharge the common liability and, within one year after the agreement, have paid liability and commenced an action for contribution.
IV. All such claims for contribution shall be resolved by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association, and judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof except as follows:
(a) A party seeking contribution by separate action may at the outset elect to have the contribution action heard in a court of competent jurisdiction by filing an action in court; or
(b) A party against whom contribution is sought in a separate action may, within 60 days of receiving notice by certified mail of a demand for arbitration, elect to have the contribution action heard by a court of competent jurisdiction. Such election shall be made by notice by regular mail to the party seeking contribution or his counsel.
(c) Notwithstanding the foregoing, if and only if the plaintiff in the principal action agrees, a defendant seeking contribution may bring an action in contribution prior to the resolution of the plaintiff's principal action, and such action shall be consolidated for all purposes with the principal action.

Source. 1986, 227:2, eff. July 1, 1986.

Section 507:7-h

    507:7-h Effect of Release or Covenant Not to Sue. – A release or covenant not to sue given in good faith to one of 2 or more persons liable in tort for the same injury discharges that person in accordance with its terms and from all liability for contribution, but it does not discharge any other person liable upon the same claim unless its terms expressly so provide. However, it reduces the claim of the releasing person against other persons by the amount of the consideration paid for the release.

Source. 1986, 227:2, eff. July 1, 1986.

Section 507:7-i

    507:7-i Inadmissible Evidence; Post Verdict Procedure. – Evidence of a settlement with, or the giving of a release or covenant not to sue to, one or more persons liable for the same injury shall not be introduced in evidence in a trial by jury of an action against another person to recover damages for the same injury. However, upon return of a verdict for the plaintiff by the jury in any such trial, the court shall inquire of counsel the amount of consideration paid for any such settlement, release, or covenant not to sue, and shall reduce the plaintiff's verdict by that amount.

Source. 1986, 227:2, eff. July 1, 1986.

Section 507:7-j

    507:7-j Subrogation Claims. – Whenever a subrogation claim pursuant to a contract of insurance is asserted for reimbursement of medical expenses as to a plaintiff's recovery against a third party, the court in which the action is pending shall order such division of expenses and costs of the action, including attorneys' fees, between the plaintiff and the insurance carrier and the medical provider, as justice may require.

Source. 2010, 364:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.

Section 507:8

    507:8 Repealed by 1969, 225:2, eff. Aug. 12, 1969. –

Other Actions and Limitations on Liability

Section 507:8-a

    507:8-a Loss of Consortium. – In a proper action, either a wife or husband is entitled to recover damages for loss or impairment of right of consortium whether caused intentionally or by negligent interference. Where fault on the part of the claimant or the claimant's spouse is found to have caused, in whole or in part, the injury to the spouse on which the claim for loss or impairment of consortium is based, damages recoverable shall be subject to diminution to the extent and in the manner provided for in RSA 507:7-d.

Source. 1967, 218:1. 1986, 227:7, eff. July 1, 1986.

Section 507:8-b

    507:8-b Strict Liability and Implied Warranties Limited. – It is expressly declared that no strict liability in tort, nor any implied warranty, attaches to the procurement, furnishing, donation, processing, distributing, or use of whole blood, plasma, blood products or blood derivatives for the purpose of administering, injecting or transfusing any of them into the human body, whether or not remuneration is paid therefor, and no person, firm, or corporation participating therein shall be liable for damages, except for negligence.

Source. 1971, 471:1, eff. Aug. 30, 1971.

Section 507:8-c

    507:8-c Members of Professional Standards Review Organizations. –
I. In this section, "professional standards review organization" means any committee, board or similar entity which reviews and evaluates the acts of members of a profession and shall only include entities established for the following professions and by the following bodies:
(a) In the case of dentists, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, by a licensed hospital or by a society or association affiliated with the American Dental Association, the board of dental examiners or the Dental Service Corporation.
(b) In the case of nurses, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, by a licensed hospital or by a society or association affiliated with the American Nurses Association or the Medical Care Foundation.
(c) In the case of optometrists, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, by a licensed hospital or by a society or association affiliated with the American Optometric Association, the Medical Care Foundation or the Vision Service Corporation.
(d) In the case of pharmacists, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, by a licensed hospital or by a society or association affiliated with the Medical Care Foundation.
(e) In the case of physicians, by an agency of the federal or state government, or any political subdivision thereof, by a licensed hospital or by a society or association affiliated with the American Medical Association or the Medical Care Foundation.
(f) In the case of chiropractors, by an agency of the federal or state government, or any political subdivision thereof, or by a society or association affiliated with the American Chiropractic Association, the International Chiropractic Association, the New Hampshire Chiropractic Association or the New Hampshire Straight Chiropractic Society, Inc.
(g) In the case of engineers, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, or by a society affiliated with the National Society of Professional Engineers or the board of engineers.
(h) In the case of veterinarians, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, or by a society or association affiliated with the New Hampshire Veterinary Medical Association or the American Veterinary Medical Association or the board of veterinary medicine.
(i) In the case of physical therapists, by an agency of the federal or state government, or a political subdivision thereof, or by a society or association affiliated with the New Hampshire chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.
II. A person serving as a member of a professional standards review organization shall not be liable in damages for any act taken by such person in good faith as a member of such organization.

Source. 1975, 360:1. 1977, 219:1. 1990, 198:2. 1994, 13:1, eff. June 7, 1994.

Section 507:8-d

    507:8-d Liability Limited. – No person shall incur any civil liability to another person by taking any action against such person which would constitute justification pursuant to RSA 627.

Source. 1979, 429:1, eff. Aug. 22, 1979.

Section 507:8-e

    507:8-e Action Against Parent for Minor's Vandalism. – A parent, guardian or other person having legal custody of a minor who fails or neglects to exercise reasonable supervision and control of the conduct of such minor shall be liable in a civil action for any acts of vandalism, as defined in RSA 169-B:45, by such minor to the real or personal property of another.

Source. 1979, 450:2, eff. Aug. 24, 1979.

Section 507:8-f

    507:8-f Civil Actions for Theft. – When the conduct of a person would constitute willful concealment as provided in RSA 637:3-a, the person shall be liable to the merchant for damages as provided in RSA 544-C:1. An action for recovery of damages, pursuant to this section, may be brought in small claims court if the total damages do not exceed the jurisdictional limit of such court, or in any other appropriate court. The provisions of this section are in addition to other civil remedies and shall not limit the rights of merchants or other persons to elect to pursue other civil remedies.

Source. 1986, 222:4. 1992, 106:3. 2009, 209:6, eff. Jan. 1, 2010.

Section 507:8-g

    507:8-g Discoverability of Risk. – In product liability actions brought by or in consequence of harm to a user, it is an affirmative defense that the risks complained of by the plaintiff were not discoverable using prevailing research and scientific techniques under the state of the art and were not discoverable using procedures required by federal or state regulatory authorities charged with supervision or licensing of the product in question. Discoverability of risk shall be measured as of the time the manufacturer parted with possession and control of, or sold the product in question, whichever occurred last.

Source. 1988, 39:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1989.

Section 507:8-h

    507:8-h Firefighter's Rule. –
I. (a) Firefighters, emergency medical technicians (E.M.T.'s), police officers, and other public safety officers shall have no cause of action for injuries incurred during the performance of duties incidental to and inherent in the officer's official engagement arising from negligent conduct of the person or persons requiring the officer's services or the homeowner or lessee of the premises on which such duties were performed.
(b) This section does not affect such officer's causes of action for unrelated negligent conduct occurring during the officer's official engagement, or for other negligent conduct, or for reckless, wanton or willful acts of misconduct.
II. In this section, "public safety officer" means a person who is exposed to injury while acting in an official capacity in law enforcement or protection of life or property.

Source. 1993, 261:1. 1997, 246:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1998. 2013, 169:1, 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2014.

Section 507:8-i

    507:8-i Actions Under RSA 151-E:19. – The defendant in any action brought under RSA 151-E:19 shall be liable to the long-term care facility as provided in RSA 151-E:19. An action under RSA 151-E:19 shall be tried by bench trial. Nothing contained in RSA 151-E or this section shall prohibit or otherwise diminish any other causes of action possessed by any such long-term care facility.

Source. 2013, 167:2, eff. July 2, 2013.

Venue

Section 507:9

    507:9 Transitory. – Transitory actions, in which any one of the parties is an inhabitant of the state, shall be brought in the county or judicial district thereof where some one of them resides. If no one of the parties is an inhabitant of the state, the action may be brought in any county or judicial district.

Source. RS 180:1. CS 191:1. GS 201:1. 1877, 42:1. GL 20:19. 220:1. 1885, 20:1. PS 216:1. 1905, 94:1. PL 328:1. RL 384:1. RSA 507:9. 1992, 284:42, eff. July 1, 1992.

Section 507:10

    507:10 By or Against Executor. – An action by or against an executor or administrator shall be brought in the same county or judicial district thereof or in one of the counties or judicial district thereof in which it might have been brought by or against the testator or intestate at the time of his death; provided, that nothing in this section shall affect the right of any executor or administrator to maintain an action in the county or judicial district in which he or she is appointed.

Source. RS 180:1. CS 191:1. GS 201:1. 1877, 42:1. GL 20:19; 220:1. 1885, 20:1. PS 216:1. 1905, 94:1. PL 328:2. RL 384:2. RSA 507:10. 1992, 284:43, eff. July 1, 1992.

Section 507:11

    507:11 Change of Venue. – The superior court may change the venue in any civil proceeding when justice or convenience requires it.

Source. 1907, 135:1. PL 328:3. RL 384:3.

Section 507:12

    507:12 Liens Not Affected by. – No lien obtained by attachment or otherwise shall be abated or in any way affected thereby.

Source. 1907, 135:2. PL 328:4. RL 384:4.

Section 507:13

    507:13 County Expenses Where Venue Changed. – Whenever in any case the venue is changed by order of court, and the case is tried by a jury in the county to which it is transferred, such county shall have judgment and execution against the county from which it is transferred for the fees due jurors, sheriffs and the stenographer for travel, attendance and services while engaged in such trial, to be taxed, allowed and entered by the presiding justice.

Source. 1885, 20:1. PS 287:23. PL 328:5. RL 384:5.

Section 507:14

    507:14 Repealed by 1973, 72:41, eff. June 3, 1973. –

Frivolous Lawsuits and Punitive Damages

Section 507:15

    507:15 Penalties for Frivolous Actions. – If, upon the hearing of any contract or tort action, it clearly appears to the court that the action or any defense is frivolous or intended to harass or intimidate the prevailing party, then the court, upon motion of the prevailing party or on its own motion, may order summary judgment against the party who brought such action or raised such defense, and award the amount of costs and attorneys' fees incurred by the prevailing party plus $1,000 to be paid to the prevailing party, provided such costs and fees are reasonable. The trial judge shall also report such conduct to the supreme court committee on professional conduct.

Source. 1986, 227:3. 1996, 2:2, eff. July 1, 1996.

Section 507:15-a

    507:15-a Vexatious Litigants. –
I. In this section, " vexatious litigant " means an individual who has been found by a judge to have filed 3 or more frivolous lawsuits which the judge finds, by clear and convincing evidence, were initiated for the primary purpose of harassment.
II. The court may require a vexatious litigant to:
(a) Retain an attorney or other person of good character to represent him or her in all actions; or
(b) Post a cash or surety bond sufficient to cover all attorney fees and anticipated damages.

Source. 2013, 181:1, eff. July 2, 2013.

Section 507:15-b

    507:15-b Powers of Court. – RSA 507:15 and RSA 507:15-a shall not be construed to diminish the inherent power of any court to grant appropriate relief not specified in those sections.

Source. 2013, 181:1, eff. July 2, 2013.

Section 507:16

    507:16 Punitive Damages Outlawed. – No punitive damages shall be awarded in any action, unless otherwise provided by statute.

Source. 1986, 227:3, eff. July 1, 1986.

Actions Against Governmental Units

Section 507:17

    507:17 Actions Against Governmental Units; Definition; Court Records. –
I. " Governmental unit " means the state and any political subdivision within the state including any county, city, town, precinct, school district, chartered public school, school administrative unit, or departments or agencies thereof.
II. In any action against a governmental unit where the governmental unit has agreed to a settlement of such action, the complete terms of the settlement and the decree of the court judgment shall be available as a matter of public record pursuant to RSA 91-A.
III. The court may redact the names of minor children or any other person the court determines to be entitled to privacy.

Source. 2004, 246:1. 2008, 354:1, eff. Sept. 5, 2008.