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Rakowski v. Lucente

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 22, 1983.

JOYCE M. RAKOWSKI ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,

v.

JAMES LUCENTE ET AL., DEFENDANTS (JAMES LUCENTE, COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

LEO R. RAKOWSKI, COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Brian B. Duff, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LINN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Leo Rakowski, and his two passengers filed suit against defendant, James Lucente, for personal injuries sustained in a two-car collision. Lucente counterclaimed against Rakowski pursuant to the Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 70, par. 302(a)).

Rakowski moved to dismiss the counterclaim on the ground that a general release signed by Lucente as part of a previously executed settlement agreement barred all subsequent claims, including the counterclaim for contribution.

The trial court granted Rakowski's motion, dismissed the counterclaim with prejudice and denied a rehearing. Lucente now appeals.

We affirm the decision of the trial court.

FACTS

On September 7, 1981, Leo Rakowski, and his two passengers, Joyce M. Rakowski and Edward J. Rakowski, a minor, were involved in a two-car accident with the counterplaintiff-appellant, James Lucente.

On September 21, 1981, James Lucente and the owner of the vehicle he was driving received $2,297 from Leo Rakowski and his insurer in full settlement of the medical expenses and property damages sustained. On that same day, Lucente signed a release negotiated by Rakowski, which read as follows:

"`RELEASE'

For the Sole Consideration of Two Thousand two hundred ninety seven Dollars, the receipt and sufficiency whereof is hereby acknowledged, the undersigned hereby releases and forever discharges Leo Rakowski, his heirs, executors, administrator, agents and assigns, and all other persons, firms or corporations liable or who might be claimed to be liable, none of whom admit any liability to the undersigned but all expressly deny any liability, from any and all claims, demands, damages, actions, causes of action or suits of any kind or nature whatsoever, and particularly on account of any injuries, known and unknown, both to person and property, which have resulted or may in the future develop from an accident which occurred on or about the 7th day of Sept., 1981 at or near Grand and Mannheim, Franklin Park.

This release expressly reserves all rights of the parties released to pursue their legal remedies, if any, against the undersigned, their heirs, executors, agents and assigns.

Undersigned hereby declares that the terms of this settlement have been completely read and are fully understood and voluntarily accepted for the purpose of making a full and final compromise adjustment and settlement of any and all claims, disputed or otherwise, on account of the injuries and damages above mentioned, and for the express purpose of precluding forever any further or additional claims arising out of the aforesaid accident."

On the following day, September 22, 1981, Rakowski and his two passengers filed suit against Lucente, seeking damages for personal injury sustained in the aforementioned accident.

Lucente, in turn, filed a counterclaim against Rakowski pursuant to the Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 70, par. 302(a)), seeking contribution to pay any damages awarded to the passengers. Rakowski moved to dismiss the counterclaim on the grounds that the release signed by Lucente barred all subsequent claims, including the counterclaim for contribution. In opposition to Rakowski's motion to dismiss, Lucente submitted an affidavit to the trial court. The affidavit explained that the release executed on September 21, 1981, was contemplated to be a release solely for liability for any personal injuries sustained by Lucente as a result of the ...


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