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Settling party cannot dispute the broad terms of a written release

In Burkhart Associates, Inc. v. Nowakowski,  the Court of Appeals reaffirmed the change of interpretation adopted a number of years ago by the activist majority of the Supreme Court.  It reinforced the rule that a settling party cannot limit expansive language in an release document by offering proof of the intent of the parties.  Many insurers present Releases to a settling claimant that sacrifice any claim against the at-fault, his agents, servants, or employees, or any other person responsible for the injuries suffered.  Others will demand signature on a document that releases "any person or entity" responsible for an incident or an injury.  In many states, these documents will be interpreted according to the parties' actual intent, however, in Michigan, they will be enforced to the prejudice of the victim, even if neither party to the document intended to release a third-party.  This unfair and unusual policy has trapped many innocent injury victims who executed documents without consulting a lawyer, and more than one inexperienced lawyer.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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