Plaintiff Enters into Broad Settlement Agreement, Inadvertently Excusing Multiple Parties

Last month, an appellate court in Mississippi issued an interesting opinion that should act as a word of caution to victims who are considering bringing an Indiana personal injury case. The opinion discusses the breadth of a settlement agreement entered into by the plaintiff and one of the parties she named as a defendant. Ultimately, due to the broad language included in the agreement, the court concluded that the agreement excused an additional party from the plaintiff’s case, despite that not being her intention.

Sewer CoverThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking on the sidewalk in front of an auto parts store when she stepped into a sunken hole where a utility box had been placed. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of her fall, and she filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city where the accident occurred, the utility commission that placed the box, and the auto parts store.

During pre-trial negotiations, the plaintiff entered into settlement agreements with the city as well as the auto parts store. Relevant to this case is the agreement between the plaintiff and the city. That agreement included language that released the city from liability, as well as its “successors, agents, attorneys, insurers, subsidiaries, sister or parent companies, assigns, employees, representatives, [and] stockholders.”

Once the parties involved in the agreement were dismissed, the case proceeded against the utility commission only. However, after pre-trial discovery, the commission moved to be dismissed from the plaintiff’s case under the theory that the agreement between the plaintiff and the city also included the utility commission because it was a “subsidiary” of the city.

The plaintiff objected, arguing that the utility commission did not sign the agreement and that it was not her intention to excuse the commission from the lawsuit. However, the court agreed with the utility commission. The court pointed to a specific document filed by the plaintiff earlier in the case, in which the plaintiff addressed the utility commission as a “subsidiary” of the city. This, the court held, indicated that the plaintiff should have known that by signing the agreement with the city, the utility commission was also going to be excused from the lawsuit. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff will not be permitted to seek additional compensation from the utility commission.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia slip-and-fall accident causing back injuries or other injuries, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. In Virginia, all landowners owe a duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property. The level of duty owed depends heavily on the relationship between the parties and the reason why the injured party was on the defendant’s land. The skilled Virginia personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Charles B. Roberts have extensive experience assisting victims with pursuing the compensation they need and deserve. Call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

Statutes of Limitations in Virginia Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, October 5, 2017.

“Fireman’s Rule” Prevents Police Officer from Pursuing Personal Injury Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, October 25, 2017.