Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Release Signed by Plaintiff Found to Preclude Other Claims

In the case of Slinger v. Sal-Mart, Inc., No. 9763-CV-2018 (C.P. Monroe Co. Oct. 29, 2020 Higgins, J.), the court found that the unambiguous language of a Release previously executed by the Plaintiff covered potential claims by the Plaintiff against other third parties and, as such, the court granted the third party Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. 

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff sustained injuries when he was hit by a truck which slid on ice and crushed the Plaintiff against a dumpster. The Defendant landowner, Sal-Mart (not a typo), owned the property where the incident occurred.

The Plaintiff sued Sal-Mart and Sal-Mart joined into the case the driver of the truck that was involved in the accident.

During the course of this matter, Sal-Mart filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asserting that a Release agreement previously entered into by the Plaintiffs and the truck driver barred the Plaintiff from seeking a recovery against Sal-Mart. 

The record confirmed that the Plaintiff had previously executed a Release in favor of the truck driver, as well as their heirs, executors, administrators, agents, assigns, and all other persons, firms or corporations which might be claimed to be liable in exchange for payment of $250,000.00. 

In this matter, the court noted that the Plaintiff did not claim any fraud with respect to the execution of the Release and admitted that he had either read the document himself or had someone else read it to him.

The Plaintiff asserted the existence of a mutual mistake in that both parties to the Release had believed that the Release only applied to the settling parties and not any other potentially liable parties.

The court noted that the clear language of the settlement agreement conflicted with the Plaintiff’s assertion that the Release only applied to the truck driver. 

The court otherwise noted that, the Plaintiff’s deposition testimony indicated that he was aware of the terms of the Release and was under no time pressure to sign it. It was also confirmed that, although the Plaintiff had the opportunity to consult with an attorney prior to signing a Release, he had chosen not to do so.

Given that the court found that the language of the Release was unambiguous in that it not only applied to the truck driver but to anyone else the Plaintiff may have contemplated suing in connection with the accident, the summary judgment motion filed by the Defendant store was granted.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Dec. 8, 2020).

Source of image: www.lexisnexis.com

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