Sims v. Honda Motor Co

In Sims v. Honda Motor Co., 225 Conn. 401, 623 A.2d 995 (1993), our Supreme Court considered "whether, pursuant to General Statutes 52-572e, an alleged tortfeasor is, as a matter of law, discharged from liability to an injured party by virtue of a general release agreement executed by the injured party that purports to release not only a specifically named tortfeasor, but also all other potentially liable parties, for consideration paid by the named tortfeasor." Sims v. Honda Motor Co., supra, at 402. General Statutes 52-572e provides: "(a) For the purposes of this section the term 'joint tortfeasors' means two or more persons jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to person or property whether or not a judgment has been recovered against all or any of them. "(b) A release by the injured person, or his legal representative, of one joint tortfeasor does not discharge the other tortfeasors unless, and only to the extent, the release so provides." In answering that question, the Court held that a general release like that signed by the plaintiff in Sims discharges only those joint tortfeasors whom the contracting parties actually intended to be released. Id. at 406. The court further adopted the "intent rule" with regard to the construction of general releases. Id. at 419. Pursuant to the intent rule, "the trial court may consider extrinsic evidence of the parties' intent regarding the scope of the release regardless of whether the court determines that the language of the release is ambiguous." Id.