This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Whether an instrument which acknowledges a receipt in full of obligations is to be regarded as contractual in its character, so that extrinsic evidence can not be used to show the amount paid or the claims which it was intended to release, or whether it is a mere recital of a fact which may be contradicted, is a question upon which there is some conflict, at least, in obiter, although the greater number of adjudications can be reconciled by distinguishing between contractual provisions and statements of fact. The recital in a receipt that it is in full of accounts is a statement of fact, and as such it may be contradicted by extrinsic evidence of the amount due and the amount paid.1 The amount which is due in fact may be shown in spite of such a recital.2 A receipt in full for payment of wages under a prior written contract does not prevent extrinsic evidence of a subsequent oral contract for the payment of an additional compensation in consideration of continuing in such employment.3 An instrument which shows that an employe has "settled up to date * * * for all work," and which shows that a certain amount has been paid, is a recital of fact and not a contract; and accordingly the true amount of the obligation and of the amount paid may be shown.4 If the attorney for plaintiffs endorses "fully satisfied" upon an execution, extrinsic evidence is admissible to show the amount which was actually received.5 Even if an instrument purports to be a release, recitals of fact,6 such as a recital that payment is made "in full as per contract for house,"7 does not preclude the use of extrinsic evidence. If the instrument which purports to be a receipt in full or a release of claims, contains provisions which are contractual in their nature, such provisions can not be contradicted by extrinsic evidence of the intention of the parties.8 A contract which recites in detail that one party thereto waives and releases claims of every sort, can not be contradicted by showing that certain claims were not included.9 An instrument which purports to be a release of claims of a receipt in full, is contractual in its nature as far as it provides for the discharge of one party thereto from liability.10 Accordingly, where a receipt in full is given in the settlement of all the claims of a certain class, extrinsic evidence can not be introduced to show that the parties had, when such receipt was given, agreed that some specified claim should not be affected by the receipt.11 Thus an instrument acknowledging the receipt of a certain sum of money, in consideration of which one party releases all interest in a given estate, is a written contract, and the party thus releasing her interest can not show an oral agreement that she should receive a greater sum than that mentioned in the receipt, in case another party interested in the estate received a greater sum.12 So an instrument as follows: " $15.50. Wooster, Ohio, May 13, 1890. This is to certify that I have this day settled with John Ely, and he has paid me all he owed me, up to this date, and I have no claims or demands against him of any kind whatsoever. Mrs. Wm. Jackson," is not merely a receipt but also a contract; and extrinsic evidence can not be used to show that outstanding items of indebtedness were omitted.13 So if an action for personal injuries is settled by the parties, and a written instrument is executed which purports to be a full settlement and discharge of all damages in consideration of a certain sum of money, extrinsic evidence is inadmissible to show a promise by the party liable for damages to pay a further sum in settlement of such action.14 So where a creditor gives a release of a joint debtor, and surrenders a note executed by the joint debtors, extrinsic evidence is inadmissible to show an oral agreement that the other debtor should not be released.15 However, a receipt given "in full settlement of all claims and demands for all logs contained" in a specified raft of logs, has been held to be a mere receipt, and not a contract, and hence not within the parol evidence rule.16
Alabama. Williams v. Shows, 197 Ala. 596, 73 So. 99.
Arkansas. National Trust & Credit Co. v. Polk, 123 Ark. 24, 183 S. W. 195.
California. Jersey Island Dredging Co. v. Whitney, 149 Cal. 269, 86 Pac. 691; Carpenter v. Markham, 172 Cal. 112, 155 Pac. 644.
Iowa. Mounce v. Kurtz, 101 Ia. 192, 70 N. W. 119; Meginnes v. McChesney, 179 Ia. 563, 160 N. W. 50 [sub nomine, Meginnes v. Copeland, L. R. A. 1917E, 1061].
Massachusetts. Lait v. Sears, 226 Mass. 119, 115 N. E. 247.
New York. Komp v. Raymond, 175 N. Y. 102, 67 N. E. 113.
Vermont. Jones v. Campbell, - Vt. - , L. R. A. 1918A, 1056, 102 Atl. 102.
Wisconsin. Twohy Mercantile Co. v. McDonald, 108 Wis. 21, 83 N. W. 1107.
2 Williams v. Shows, 197 Ala. 596, 73 So. 99.
3 Meginnes v. McChesney, 179 Ia. 563, 160 N. W. 50 [sub nomine, Meginnes v. Copeland, L. R. A. 1917E, 1060].
4 Jones v. Campbell, - Vt. - , L. R. A. 1918A, 1056, 102 Atl. 102.
5Lait v. Sears, 226 Mass. 119, 115 N. E. 247.
6 Carpenter v. Markham, 172 Cal. 112, 155 Pac. 644.
7 Carpenter v. Markham, 172 Cal. 112. 155 Pac. 644.
8 Jensen v. McConnell, 31 Ida. 87, 169 Pac. 292.
9 Jensen v. McConnell, 31 Ida. 87, 160 Pac. 292.
10 United States. Green v. Ry., 92 Fed. 873, 36 C. C. A. 68.
Connecticut. Bull v. Bull, 43 Conn. 465; Allen v. Ruland, 79 Conn. 405, 118 Am. St. Rep. 146, 65 Atl. 138.
Massachusetts. Squires v. Amherst. 145 Mass. 192, 13 N. E. 609.
Minnesota. Morris v. Ry., 21 Minn. 91.
New Jersey. Church v. Ry., 63 N. J. L. 470. 43 Atl. 696.
Ohio. Jackson v. Ely, 57 O. S. 460, 49 N. E. 792.
Rhode Island. Vaughan v. Mason, 23 R. I. 348, 60 Atl. 390.
Wisconsin. Conant v. Kimball, 95 Wis. 550, 70 N. W. 74.
Contra, French v. Arnett, 15 Ind. App. 674, 44 N. E. 551; Mounce v. Kurtz, 101 Ia. 192, 70 N. W. 119; Allen v. Mill Co., 18 Wash. 216, 51 Pac. 372.
11 Seeman v. Mining Co., 22 Ohio C. C. 311, 12 Ohio C. D. 206.
12Cassilly v. Cassilly, 57 O. S. 682, 49 N. E. 795.
13 Jackson v. Ely, 57 O. S. 460, 49 N. E. 792.