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VARNADO v. TRANS UNION LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division


July 26, 2004.

ALVIN VARNADO, Plaintiff,
v.
TRANS UNION LLC, NICOR GAS, Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant, Nicor Gas, has moved for summary judgment supported by a three page memorandum. On July 14, 2004, the Court continued the motion generally. Today, having reviewed the motion and memorandum the Court issues the following determination without the requirement of responsive filings. Defendant advances a single argument: "Pursuant to well-established law, a release of one joint tortfeasor releases all joint tortfeasors. (Def.'s Br. at 3 (citing Havoco of Am., Ltd. v. Sumitomo Corp. of Am., 971 F.2d 1332, 1340 (7th Cir. 1991).) However, defendant fails to take into account the effect of the Illinois Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act, 740 ILL. COMP. STAT. 100/1 et seq. Section 2(c) to of the Act provides in part: When a release or covenant not to sue or not to enforce judgment is given in good faith to one or more persons liable in tort arising out of the same injury or the same wrongful death, it does not discharge any of the other tortfeasors from liability for the injury or wrongful death unless its terms so provide but it reduces the recovery on any claim against the others to the extent of any amount stated in the release or the covenant, or in amount of the consideration actually paid for it, whichever is greater.

The purpose of this act was to abrogate the harsh, common law rule upon which defendant relies — that the release of one joint tortfeasor releases all joint tortfeasors. Alsup v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 461 N.E.2d 361, 364 (Ill. 1984). Unless the release by plaintiff specifically names and releases other joint tortfeasors, it does not operate to release other unnamed tortfeasors. Id.; see Brady v. Prairie Material Sales, Inc., 546 N.E.2d 802, 808 (Ill.App. Ct. 1989); see also Lumpkin v. Envirodyne Indus., Inc., 933 F.2d 449, 458 (7th Cir. 1991) (recognizing the effect of Alsup on tort law).

  In the case before the Court, the release given to the settlement tortfeasor does not purport in any way to release any of the other joint tortfeasors, and, therefore, cannot operate to do so. For this reason, the Court denies defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 

SO ORDERED
20040726

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