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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Nov. 17, 2003, Mark Schomburg was injured in a car accident in which his vehicle, a Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, rolled over. Following the accident, Mark and Cynthia Schomburg sued General Motors Corp. for products liability and negligence. The Schomburgs settled their claims with GM and executed a confidential settlement agreement and complete release on Dec. 8, 2004. The settlement agreement defined the released party as “General Motors Corporation, its related and affiliated companies or corporations, agents, servants, authorized dealers,” etc. The release stated that it applied to all claims of the Schomburgs arising from or relating to the accident on Nov. 17, 2003. On Dec. 27, 2005, a little over one year after signing the settlement agreement with GM, the Schomburgs sued TRW, the seatbelt manufacturer. They claimed the vehicle components manufactured by TRW were not crashworthy and were defectively designed and manufactured. TRW asserted the affirmative defense of release and sought summary judgment on the ground of release. The trial court granted TRW’s motion. The Schomburgs timely appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. In their sole issue, the Schomburgs contended that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the ground that they had released TRW through their settlement with GM. They contended that TRW was not released, because it was not specifically named. A release, the court stated, is a complete bar to any later action based upon matters covered in the release. A release applies to a party that is either specifically identified in the release or described with sufficient particularity. When a release refers to a related document, that document should be considered when reviewing a release. A tortfeasor can claim the protection of a release, the court stated, only if the release refers to him by name or with such descriptive particularity that his identity or his connection with the tortious event is not in doubt. In this case, the court stated, the settlement document identified the accident by date, location and the vehicle identification number of the Schomburgs’ vehicle. The Schomburgs released GM and its components suppliers. They also released all claims related to the vehicle and its component parts. The court concluded that the term “component suppliers” was sufficiently descriptive so as to identify TRW, the supplier of the seatbelt restraint system. Although the release did not name TRW, the court found that it identified a specific group who supplied parts to GM for the manufacture of a specifically identified vehicle. It was this vehicle and seatbelt restraint system, the court stated, that were alleged not to be crashworthy in both the lawsuits against GM and TRW. Thus, the court held that TRW was readily identifiable from the description. OPINION:Wright, J.; Whittington, Wright and FitzGerald, JJ.

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