Litigation of Releases

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

April 24, 2013
105 A.D.3d 1048, 963 N.Y.S.2d 397

Background: In an action to set aside a general release issued to our client, who was an attorney, the plaintiff alleged fraudulent misinterpretation. The Surrogate’s Court, Suffolk County, after a nonjury trial on issue of validity, denied plaintiff’s application to set aside release. The plaintiff appealed.

Decision: The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that enforcing release was warranted. In general rules of construction written releases are contracts, and their interpretation governed by the principles of contract law. Where the language in a release is clear and free from ambiguity, effect must be given to the intent of the parties as reflected in the writing alone, without resort to extrinsic evidence.