Summey v. Lacy, 78-675

Citation588 P.2d 892,42 Colo.App. 1
Decision Date14 December 1978
Docket NumberNo. 78-675,78-675
PartiesBurnie SUMMEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. George M. LACY, Defendant-Appellee. . I
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

David B. Savitz, Denver, for plaintiff-appellant.

Yegge, Hall & Evans, Richard D. Hall, Denver, for defendant-appellee.

PIERCE, Judge.

Plaintiff, Burnie Summey, brought this negligence action against defendant, Dr. George M. Lacy. The district court granted Lacy's motion for summary judgment, and Summey appeals. We reverse.

In September of 1975, Summey severed three of his fingers while operating a log splitting machine. He was taken to a nearby hospital where Lacy treated him by cleaning and suturing the wounds. Summey brought a product liability action against the manufacturer and the lessor of the log splitting machine, but this action was dismissed with prejudice after the parties entered into a settlement and executed a release. Under that settlement, signed in August of 1977, Summey was paid $50,000 in return for which he released the lessor and manufacturer:

"from any and all claims, demands, damages, actions, causes of action or suits of any kind or nature whatsoever, and particularly on account of all injuries, known and unknown, both to person and property, which have resulted or may, in the future, develop . . . ."

Summey then brought this action against Lacy, alleging that Lacy was negligent in not attempting to reimplant or restore the severed fingers, which were brought with him to the hospital. The district court granted Lacy's motion for summary judgment on the ground that, under the common law rule announced in Sams v. Curfman, 111 Colo. 124, 137 P.2d 1017 (1943), the release of an original tortfeasor operates to release a subsequent treating physician, absent specific language in the release to the contrary. See also Ashley v. Roche, 163 Colo. 498, 431 P.2d 783 (1967).

This rule is a special application of the general common law principle that the release of one joint tortfeasor ordinarily releases other joint tortfeasors. See Mills v. Standard Title Insurance Co., Colo., 577 P.2d 756 (1978); Farmers Elevator Co. v. Morgan, 172 Colo. 545, 474 P.2d 617 (1970). The court in Sams, supra, took the position that the injuries suffered by treatment were proximately caused by the original tort. In this sense, the physician and original wrongdoer caused a "single" injury, and were therefore jointly liable. When the plaintiff recovered from the original tortfeasor, he had been fully compensated for his "single" injury.

However, § 13-50.5-105(1) of the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, Colo.Sess.Laws 1977, ch. 195 at 810, abolished the common law rule governing releases of joint tortfeasors, and we hold that it also overruled Sams, supra. That statute provides, in pertinent part:

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9 cases
  • Bjork v. Chrysler Corp.
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • 27 Junio 1985
    ...v. St. Francis Hospital, 212 Kan. 35, 510 P.2d 145, 151 (1973); Missouri v. Crandall, Mo., 581 S.W.2d 829 (1979); Summey v. Lacy, 42 Colo.App. 1, 588 P.2d 892, 894 (1978); Callan v. O'Neil, 20 Wash.App. 32, 578 P.2d 890, 892-893 (1978); Alaska Airlines, Inc. v. Sweat, Alaska, 568 P.2d 916, ......
  • Williams v. Physicians and Surgeons Community Hosp., Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • 30 Junio 1982
    ...of most persons when they execute a general release. See Young v. State, 455 P.2d 889, 893, (Alaska Sup.Ct.1969); Summey v. Lacy, 42 Colo.App. 1, 588 P.2d 892, 894 (1978); Fieser v. St. Francis Hospital, 212 Kan. 35, 510 P.2d 145, 151 (1973); Missouri v. Crandall, 581 S.W.2d 829 (Mo.Sup.Ct.......
  • Harris v. Grizzle
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • 20 Agosto 1979
    ...Fieser v. St. Francis Hospital, supra, 510 P.2d at 151; see, Missouri v. Crandall, Mo.1979, 581 S.W.2d 829 (1979); Summey v. Lacy, Colo.App.1978, 588 P.2d 892, 894; Callan v. O'Neil, 1978, 20 Wash.App. 32, 578 P.2d 890, 892-893; Alaska Airlines, Inc. v. Sweat, Alaska 1977, 568 P.2d 916, 928......
  • Hoyt v. Paul R. Miller, M.D., Inc.
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • 16 Julio 1996
    ...the physician and original wrongdoer caused a "single" injury, and were, therefore, jointly liable to the victim. Summey v. Lacy, 42 Colo.App. 1, 588 P.2d 892, 893 (1978). This is so even though the physician can be said to be a successive tortfeasor, rather than a joint or concurrent one. ......
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