Battle v. Clanton

Citation27 N.C.App. 616,220 S.E.2d 97
Decision Date03 December 1975
Docket NumberNo. 757SC469,757SC469
CourtCourt of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
PartiesClarence BATTLE v. Major CLANTON et al.

Hubert H. Senter, Franklinton, for plaintiff.

Battle, Winslow, Scott & Wiley, P.A., by J. B. Scott, Rocky Mount, for defendant Stallings.

CLARK, Judge.

A judgment on the pleadings was inappropriate. The complaint was not fatally defective, and it appears that matters outside the pleadings were presented to and considered by the court. Under these circumstances the motion for judgment on the pleadings must be treated as a motion for summary judgment. G.S. 1A--1, Rule 12(c).

Summary judgment for the defendant Stallings was entered by the trial court on the basis of the release filed by the plaintiff and his attorney in consideration of the payment of the policy limits of $15,000 made by the insurer of the defendants Clanton and Joyner. This release specifically named defendants Clanton and Joyner and 'all other persons, firms, or corporations who are or might be liable, from All claims of Any kind or character which I have or might have against it, him or them, and especially because of all damages, losses or injuries . . . (arising out of subject accident) and I hereby acknowledge full settlement and satisfaction of All claims of whatever kind or character which I or my heirs, executors, administrators, successors or assigns may have against it, him or them by reason of the above-mentioned damages, losses or injuries.'

Plaintiff urges that the release applied only to claims against defendants Clanton and Joyner, who were specifically referred to therein; that it was not intended to release any claims against the others; and that the words 'all claims of whatever kind or character' are mere surplusage.

G.S. 1B--4 provides:

'Release or covenant not to sue.--When a release or a covenant not to sue or not to enforce judgment is given in good faith to one of two or more persons liable in tort for the same injury or the same wrongful death:

(1) It does not discharge any of the other tort-feasors from liability . . . unless its terms so provide; . . .'

G.S. 1B--4 is a part of the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act which became effective January 1, 1968, in North Carolina. It is the intent of draftsmen of such uniform acts that as much as possible, they be given uniform interpretation among those states where they are in force. Bonar v. Hopkins, D.C., 311 F.Supp. 130, 131 (1969), dealt with a release containing the following language:

". . . sole consideration of . . . in hand paid by Valletta Inclan have released and discharged . . . and all other persons, firms or corporations from all claims . . . resulting . . . from an accident . . .."

The court determined that this language was all inclusive and released even those who paid no consideration for the release. '(W)here, from the terms of the release, it must be apparent to the claimant that its execution forecloses further compensation from any source, the result is one voluntarily accepted by the claimant himself.' Bonar, Supra, at 134. By its terms, the release in the case at bar released all other persons, the latter term reasonably including the defendant, Stallings.

Other authorities are in accord with the proposition that a general release to all whomsoever bars further suits against other entities involved in the occurrence which produced the settlement with one participant that led to the release. In Peters v. Butler, 253 Md. 7, 251 A.2d 600 (1969) decided under the Uniform Act adopted in Maryland, it was held that a release given to an automobile driver who struck a low brick wall marking the boundary of an apartment house parking lot, causing it to collapse on plaintiff's leg, also released the apartment owner which maintained the wall on its grounds, even though the owner paid nothing for the release and was not expressly named therein, since the instrument also released, as in the present case, "all other persons, firms or corporations liable or who might be claimed to be liable . . . on account of all injuries, known and unknown . . . which have resulted or may in the future develop' from the accident,' and further provided, as in the present case, 'that it was executed 'for the express purpose of precluding forever any further or additional claims arising out of the aforesaid accident.'' 251 A.2d at 601.

In Panichella v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 268 F.2d 72 (3rd Cir. 1959), Cert. denied, 361 U.S. 932, 80 S.Ct. 370, 4 L.Ed.2d 353 (1960), the railroad directed its employee to go to a restaurant, eat breakfast, and bring back lunch for other employees. While en route the employee slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk abutting Warner Brothers' property. Warner Brothers' insurance company negotiated a settlement with the employee, and the latter released Warner Brothers and all other persons, firms and corporations of and from any and all claims, etc., arising by reason of the accident. The court held that the release barred the employee's F.E.L.A. claim against the railroad, although it was not named in the...

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28 cases
  • Bjork v. Chrysler Corp., 84-131
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 27, 1985 be named or specifically identified. (See Johnson v. City of Las Cruces (1974), 86 N.M. 196, 521 P.2d 1037; Battle v. Clanton (1975), 27 N.C.App. 616, 220 S.E.2d 97; Peters v. Butler (1969), 253 Md. 7, 251 A.2d 600; Hasselrode v. Gnagey (1961), 404 Pa. 549, 172 A.2d 764; Liberty v. J.A. ......
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    ...Cir.1982) (applying Arkansas law); Morison v. General Motors Corp., 428 F.2d 952, 953-54 (5th Cir.1970) (same); Battle v. Clanton, 27 N.C.App. 616, 220 S.E.2d 97, 99 (1975); Hasselrode v. Gnagey, 404 Pa. 549, 172 A.2d 764, 765 The second haven to which courts have fled in an effort to solve......
  • Noonan v. Williams
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    ...Express, Inc., 72 N.Y.2d 11, 22, 526 N.E.2d 8, 14, 530 N.Y.S.2d 517, 523 (1988) (applying New York and Delaware law); Battle v. Clanton, 27 N.C.App. 616, 621, 220 S.E.2d 97 (1975); Republic Insurance Co. v. Paul Davis Systems of Pittsburgh South, Inc., 543 Pa. 186, 189-190, 670 A.2d 614, 61......
  • Neves v. Potter, 87SC373
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    ...400 U.S. 904, 91 S.Ct. 142, 27 L.Ed.2d 141 (1970); Doganieri v. United States, 520 F.Supp. 1093 (N.D.W.Va.1981); Battle v. Clanton, 27 N.C.App. 616, 220 S.E.2d 97 (1975); Hasselrode v. Gnagey, 404 Pa. 549, 172 A.2d 764 (1961). Other jurisdictions have reached the opposite conclusion, choosi......
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