No More Common Law “Release Rule” in California

Under the common law “release rule,” a settlement with one of several defendants releases the remaining defendants from liability. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, since there are many reasons why a plaintiff might want to settle with one defendant but keep going against the others. The California Supreme Court agreed, citing the “unjust and inequitable results” that can result from the rule — for both parties, although it was the plaintiff who was harmed in this case. In overturning the release rule, it sounds like the court basically adopted a Pierrenger release as the default, which plaintiffs and defendants often use to avoid the potential adverse effects of settling with one one of several defendants. [via WSJ Law Blog]

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