Employer Was Released From Liability In Settlement Agreement Between Employee And Third Party

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Rodriguez v. Oto, 212 Cal. App. 4th 1020 (2013)

Heriberto Ceja Rodriguez sued Takeshi Oto for injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, at the time of the accident, Oto was driving from an event related to his employment. (Oto was driving a car he rented from Hertz, the cost of which was reimbursed to him by his employer.) Seven months after the accident, Rodriguez settled with Hertz and Oto for $25,000 and executed a written release in favor of “Takeshi Oto and The Hertz Corporation, its employees, agents, servants, successors, heirs, executors, administrators and all other persons, firms, corporations, associations or partnerships.” When Rodriguez filed this lawsuit against Oto and Oto’s employer (alleging negligent entrustment, among other things), Oto and the employer filed a motion for summary judgment, relying upon the language of the release agreement that Rodriguez had previously executed. The trial court granted the summary judgment motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the broad release Rodriguez had signed included Oto’s employer. The Court also found no error in the trial court’s refusal to grant Rodriguez’s request for a continuance of the summary judgment hearing.