me." The plaintiff then brought suit for personal injuries which she sustained. Id. By special interrogatory the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and attributed 75% fault to the defendant-third party plaintiff and 25% fault to the third-party defendant. Id. The third party defendant's argument that this subsequent liability was within the scope of the general release was rejected by the court. Id. at 784. The court found that the release was limited by its own language to injuries suffered by the defendant-third party plaintiff, and did not apply to injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Id. at 785. Sage is therefore distinguishable from the case at bar since the release at issue here contains no limiting language.
Finally, the plaintiff cited two cases during argument at the trial which deserve mention. In Concepcion v. United States Navy, 575 F. Supp. 23, 24-25 (S.D.N.Y. 1983), the plaintiff suffered injuries in two incidents, first aboard the U.S.N.S. Sealift Antarctic in 1978, and later, in 1979, aboard the U.S.N.S. Potomac. The court held that a general release executed in settlement of injuries suffered aboard the Sealift Antarctic did not bar a later suit for injuries suffered aboard the Potomac, although the release was executed after the injury aboard the Potomac occurred. Id. at 25. The court, finding that a general release which refers to specific claims requires construction, held that the language of the release clearly referred to injuries suffered aboard the Sealift Antarctic.
Id. Unlike the case at bar, the Concepcion release contained limiting language. Here, the release did not contain limiting language, but generally released defendants.
In re American Export Lines, Inc., 620 F. Supp. 490 (S.D.N.Y. 1985), was an admiralty case and the court applied federal law. However, the court looked to New York state law in defining federal law. See id. at 516. That court's reasoning and holding provide guidance to this court only to the extent that the law applied is similar to New York law. The court stated that where "the language of the release is clear, . . . the intent of the parties [is] indicated by the language employed" when counsel is available to the parties, who are approximately equivalent bargaining position, and the release is signed in a commercial context. Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted). Thus, the court found that the release, which referred to patent infringement and completion of performance of a construction contract, did not bar suits alleging breach of contract or tortious conduct. Id. at 516-17. Again, as in Concepcion, the release at issue in American Export Lines contained limiting language which the courts found clearly expressed the parties intent, whereas here the release contains only general language.
A close reading of the case law thus establishes that under New York state law where there is no ambiguity and the facts do not fall within one of the categories which provide an exemption from the parol evidence rule, the intent of the parties as to the scope of the release must be derived from the language of the release itself. Therefore the court properly excluded parol evidence. To rule otherwise upon the facts of this case would mean that in every instance a general release could be attacked by parol evidence. The validity and enforceability of all general releases would be in doubt and absolute closure in disputes would be difficult if not impossible to achieve.
III. Equitable Relief
Plaintiff's second ground for a new trial is that the court erred in failing to liberally construe the complaint as seeking equitable relief. Plaintiff contends that although the complaint did not specifically request equitable relief, sufficient facts were set forth to state such a claim. Be that as it may, the plaintiff specifically disavowed any claim for equitable relief and therefore cannot now claim that the court was in error in failing to consider it. (See Pl.'s Mem. Law Opp'n, filed Sept. 29, 1995, at 3.)
IV. Dismissal with Prejudice
Finally, plaintiff contends that the court erred in dismissing the case with prejudice. Plaintiff argues that it should have the opportunity to replead its case to include equitable relief. As previously discussed, plaintiff specifically disavowed any claim for equitable relief. Moreover, plaintiff did not object to defendants' motion to dismiss, with prejudice, due to plaintiff's inability to set forth a prima facie case in the absence of parol evidence to limit the general release executed by the Bank in favor of the defendants. (See Pl.'s Not. Mot. Ex. A, filed Dec. 8, 1995, at 19-20.)
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED, that plaintiff's motion for reconsideration is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
David N. Hurd
United States Magistrate Judge
Dated: March 6, 1996