Sanger v. Yellow Cab Co., Inc., 57785

Decision Date13 November 1972
Docket NumberNo. 57785,57785
Citation486 S.W.2d 477
PartiesCarl A. SANGER and Genevieve J. Sanger, Respondents, v. YELLOW CAB COMPANY, INC., a Corporation, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Stanley I. Dale, Whitney W. Potter, St. Joseph, for respondents.

Price Shoemaker and Robert D. Colley, St. Joseph, Divid Collins, Hadley E. Grimm, Collins & Grimm, Macon, for appellant.

SEILER, Judge.

This is an action for personal injuries suffered by Carl Sanger in an automobile collision. A verdict and judgment for $4,500 were entered for plaintiff, and defendant appeals. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Kansas City District, affirmed the decision of the trial court, and on motion of defendant, we ordered the case transferred here, Sec. 10, Art. V, Constitution of Missouri, V.A.M.S.

The issue in this case is whether plaintiff's claim is barred by the general release he executed, or is the release null and void by reason of mutual mistake as to plaintiff's injuries. It is important to note plaintiff makes no claim of fraud, overreaching, or misrepresentation and sought no equitable relief by way of rescission or reformation. We hold plaintiff is barred by the release and reverse the judgment.

On September 18, 1969 in St. Joseph, Missouri, plaintiff was seated in his parked car when it was struck by defendant's taxicab. Plaintiff said at the scene he was nervous but did not think he was injured. Plaintiff was anxious to get his car fixed because he was going on vacation in two weeks, and the following day he obtained a repair estimate. After someone called him from the office of defendant's lawyer, plaintiff went to the office on Saturday morning, September 20, 1969, and reached an agreement concerning the cost of repairs ($421.39) and the amount his wife would have to expend for cab fare until the car was fixed ($15.00). Plaintiff testified there was no discussion regarding any personal injuries except that he described his 'funny feelings'. Defendant gave plaintiff a draft for $436.39, and plaintiff signed a general release. Plaintiff denied knowing that the paper he signed was a release, saying that he thought it was a receipt. Plaintiff had been in an earlier accident where a settlement was made and knew he signed a release on that occasion. Plaintiff admitted he could read and write.

Defendant's counsel testified, '. . . I asked if he was injured. He said he had some stiffness in his left shoulder and in his back, shook up. I asked if he had been to a doctor and he said no. I asked if he was going to a doctor, and he said no, 'not unless it gets worse.' I asked him if he wanted to go ahead and settle this claim, and he indicated he did because he had a vacation coming up and wanted his car fixed . . . I did inform him once payment was made the matter would be closed, he couldn't later get any more money . . .' Plaintiff remarked when he accepted the draft from the lawyer, 'I am real stiff and sore but I guess I will live.' After the accident, plaintiff's wife asked him daily if he was injured and he kept complaining of being 'shook up and stiff'. She further testified that on Saturday morning, before he went to the attorney's office, he complained of still being shook up and stiff, and that she tried to get him to go to the doctor but he replied, 'No. I will probably be all right.'

Plaintiff testified his pain became progressively worse from Sunday afternoon until Saturday, September 27, 1969, when he went to see a doctor. The doctor's ultimate diagnosis was an accident aggravated pre-existing hypertrophic osteoarthritic condition. At the time of the trial the doctor did not know whether plaintiff would suffer any permanent injury from the accident.

A few weeks after realizing he was hurt worse than he thought, plaintiff returned to defendant's lawyer, where he was given some medical report forms to have filled out. Later plaintiff received a letter from defendant stating that they were of the opinion that he had signed a valid release and consequently would not make any additional payment. Defendant's attorney testified that at the time the release was signed he took plaintiff at his word, that he was stiff and sore and it would work out, that as far as what plaintiff told him the injury was inconsequential, that ordinarily the company did not pay for loss of use, 'But when he indicated to me he was injured I didn't want to argue with him about fifteen dollars, and I added it on', that normally if a man is injured he also has the man's wife sign any release to release her loss of services claim, but did not in this case.

The portion of the release material to the issue under consideration reads as follows:



and 39/100 Dollars ($436.39) to me/us paid, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, I/we hereby release and discharge YELLOW CAB COMPANY OF ST. JOSEPH, MO. INC. and BILLY W. HILL his or their heirs, successors and assigns, and all other persons, firms or corporations who are or might be liable, from all claims of any kind or character which I/we have or may have against him or them, and especially because of all damages, losses or injury to persons or property, or both, whether known or unknown, developed, or undeveloped, resulting or to result from accident on or about September 18, 1969, at or near 300 block North 6th Street, St. Joseph, Missouri, and I/we hereby acknowledge full settlement and satisfaction of all claims of whatever kind or character which I/we may have against him or them by reason of the above mentioned damages, losses or injuries.'

The basic rule in Missouri release law is found in Vondera v. Chapman, 352 Mo. 1034, 180 S.W.2d 704, which involved a $25,000 action for personal injuries growing out of an automobile collision. The answer set up a release, executed nine days after the collision, for $175, in full settlement for all 'not only now known injuries, losses and damages, but any future injuries, losses and damages not now known or anticipated but which may later develop or be discovered, including all the effects and consequences thereof.' Plaintiff replied that the release was executed at a time when the only injuries to plaintiff known to either side were superficial and slight; that the amount paid was considered by both sides to be fair and reasonable compensation for the injuries then known; that shortly thereafter she discovered the injuries were much greater, that had she known of these injuries she would not have settled for so small a sum and the settlement was made as result of mutual mistake as to the extent of injuries.

The court sustained a demurrer to the reply and entered judgment for defendant, which was affirmed on appeal. The court pointed out there was no charge of fraud or unfair dealing and said at 180 S.W.2d l.c. 705: '. . . The parties dealt at arm's length, in good faith, and the release expressly stated that it covered unknown damages which might later develop. There is no claim now that the release failed to express the intent which the parties had at the time of settlement. The only claim of mistake is that, although appellant settled for future damages, she did not know the extent of her injuries, and, if sh...

To continue reading

Request your trial
64 cases
  • Williams v. Glash
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • May 2, 1990
    ...Laundry, Inc., 319 Mass. 386, 65 N.E.2d 918 (1946); Pearson v. Weaver, 252 Miss. 724, 173 So.2d 666, 669 (1965); Sanger v. Yellow Cab Co., 486 S.W.2d 477 (Mo.1972); Sibson v. Farmers Ins. Group, 88 Nev. 417, 498 P.2d 1331 (1972); Maltais v. National Grange Mut. Ins. Co., 118 N.H. 318, 386 A......
  • Parks v. Union Carbide Corp.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1980
    ...liability.' " Id. "(A) settlement is made and a general release taken for the purpose of foreclosing further claims." Sanger v. Yellow Cab Co., 486 S.W.2d 477, 481 (Mo. banc 1972). A settlement, release, or covenant not to sue, agreed upon between the plaintiff and one tortfeasor in a multi......
  • Soars v. Easter Seals Midwest, SC 97018
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 18, 2018
    ...Id. When determining the existence of consideration, the Court does not evaluate the adequacy of the consideration. Sanger v. Yellow Cab Co. , 486 S.W.2d 477, 481 (Mo. banc 1972). This is because "the general rule of freedom of contract includes the freedom to make a bad bargain." Id. at 48......
  • Briggs v. Wyoming Nat. Bank of Casper
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • June 23, 1992
    ...signed, unless there was something more than mere reliance upon the statements of another as to its contents...." Sanger v. Yellow Cab Co., Inc., Mo.1972, 486 S.W.2d 477, 481. Laird v. Laird, 597 P.2d 463, 467 (Wyo.1979). See also First State Bank of Wheatland v. American National Bank, 808......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT