Even though one is not liable for a tort, if he is given a release as a party jointly liable for it, it has been held that this will preclude the releasor from afterwards suing another for the injury to which the release related.54
Such a result can be defended only on the theory that a release is a conclusive admission of the receipt of full satisfaction, and that full satisfaction even from a stranger is a bar to any further claim. The latter proposition may be admitted,55 but nant to the release and void. Ducey v. Patterson, 11 Ann. Cos. 393, note; Gunther v. Lee, 45 Md. 60,24 Am. Rep. 604; McBride v. Scott, 132 Mich. 176, 93 N. W. 243, 61 L. It. A. 445, 102 Am. St. Rep. 416; Seither v. Philadelphia Traction Co., 125 Penn. St. 397,17 Atl. 338, 4 L. R. A. 64,11 Am. St. Rep. 905; Abb v. Northern Pacific Ry., 28 Wash. 428, 68 Pac. 954, 58 L. R, A. 203, 92 Am. St. Rep. 864, But where it is evident that the consideration paid to the plaintiff was not intended to be full compensation for his injuries, and the agreement signed by him although in form a release was clearly intended to preserve the liability of those who were not parties to it, many of the courts have sought to give effect to that intention by construing the agreement as in legal effect a covenant not to sue and not a technical release."
52 Wheat v. Carter (N. H.), 106 Atl 602.
53 See State v. Maryland Elec. Rys. Co., 126 Md. 300, 05 Atl. 43, L, R. A. 1917 A. 273, and cases collected in note to the latter report.
54 Tompkins v. Clay St. R. R. Co., 66 Cal. 163, 4 Pac. 1165; Miller v. Beck, 108 Ia. 575, 79 N. W. 344; Leddy v. Barney, 139 Mass. 394, 2 N. E. 107; Hartigan c. Dickson, 81 Minn. 284, 83 N. W. 1091; Hubbard v. St. Louis etc R., 173 Mo. 249, 72 S. W. 1073; Casey v. Auburn Telephone Co., 155 N. Y. App. D. 66, 139 N. Y. S. 579; Seither v. Philadelphia Traction Co., 125 Pa. 397, 17 Atl. 338, 4 L. R. A. 64, 11 Am. St. 905.
55 In Lovejoy v. Murray, 3 Wall 1, 18 L. Ed. 129, Miller, J., said: "When plaintiff has accepted satisfaction in full for the injury done him, from whatever source it may come, he is so far the former is a fiction which has been previously criticised.55a There is good judicial support for the more reasonable proposition that the release of one who was not liable for the injury does not destroy the right of action against those who actually committed it,56 unless the injured party has received full redress. The cases where these questions have arisen relate to the discharge of one liable or alleged to be liable for a tort, but there seems no difference in principle where the original liability is under a contract.