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Case Update

In this unreported decision, Plaintiff Berhane was involved in a MVA and subsequently sued the Defendant's UM carrier (Allstate) for negligence, and the manufacturer of Defendant's vehicle (Nissan), alleging negligent design and negligent manufacturing of the vehicle. Plaintiff settled his claim with the driver and then executed a general release. Thereafter, Defendant Nissan removed the case to federal court and filed a motion for summary judgment, based on the language in the general release that stated Plaintiff agreed to release the Defendant (driver), “and all other persons, firms or corporations liable or, who might be claimed to be liable...from any and all claims, demands, damages, actions, causes of action or suits of any kind...which have resulted or may in the future develop from an accident which occurred on or about November 11, 2009.”

The court noted that under Maryland law, a general release of one tortfeasor releasing “all other persons” serves to act as a release of all joint tortfeasors, regardless of whether or not the other tortfeasor was a party to or even mentioned in the release. Therefore, the court held that pursuant to the explicit terms of the general release executed by Plaintiff Berhane, the language of the release specifically precluded any claim against Defendant Nsisan. The court also rejected Plaintiff's argument that the intent of the release clearly intended for Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Nissan to survive, stating that the language of the contractual release was plain and unambiguous and therefore it must be assumed that the parties meant what they so stated in the clear language of the release.

Berhane, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., et al, Civil No. PJM 13-173 (2013) (Not Reported)

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