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.
As in the case of contracts generally.1 the general words of a release are frequently limited by specific words in the same instrument; and the release is to be construed as applying only to the claims or demands which are thus referred to specifically.2 A release of damages, past, present or future, arising from the construction or operation of tracks in a street, does not include damages caused by the subsequent change of grade of such street.3
1 England. Ramsden v. Hylton, 2 Ves. Sr. 304; In re Perkins . 2 Ch. 182.
Connecticut. Dwy v. Connecticut Co. 89 Conn. 74 L. R. A. 1915E, 800, 92 Atl. 883.
Illinois. Colton v. Field, 131 111. 398, 22 N. E. 545.
New Hampshire. Cobb v. Morrison, - N. H. - , 104 Atl. 829.
New Jersey. Van Slyke v. Van Slyke, 80 N. J. L. 382, 31 L. R. A.
(N.S.) 778, 78 Atl. 179; Haber v. Goldberg, 92 N. J. 367, 105 Atl. 874.
New York. Faber v. New York, 222 N. Y. 255, 118 N. E. 609.
Oregon. Coopey v. Keady, 73 Or. 66, 144 Pac. 99.
Pennsylvania. Flaccus v. Wood, 260 Pa. St. 161, 103 Atl. 549; Heiser v. Reynolds. - Pa. St. - . 106 Atl. 888.
2 United States v. William Cramp Ship & Engine Building Co., 206 U. S. 118. 51 L. ed. 983.
3 See ft - .
4 In re Perkins , 2 Ch. 182; Van Slyke v. Van Slyke, 80 N. J. L. 382. 31 L. R. A. (N.S.) 778, 78 Atl. 179.
5 Haber v. Goldberg, 92 N. J. 367, 105 Atl. 874; Faber v. New York, 222 N. Y. 255, 118 N. E. 609; Flaocus v. Wood, 260 Pa. St. 161, 103 Atl. 549.
6 Haber v. Goldberg, 92 N. J. 367, 105 Atl. 874.
7 Faber v. New York, 222 N. Y. 255, 118 N. E. 609.
8 Flaccus v. Wood, 260 Pa. St. 161, 103 Atl. 549.
1See Sec. 2026.
The rule that the specific recitals limit general words, is merely an application of the general principle that the release is to be construed as a whole, and that separate parts thereof are to be read in the light of the entire instrument. Accordingly, the instrument taken as a whole may show that it was not the intention of the parties to limit the general words by the particular recitals.4 A release of all claims from the beginning of the world and especially those arising out of a certain specified occurrence, is not limited to claims arising out of such specified occurrence, but includes all prior claims.5 A release which provides that the releasor does "remise, release and forever discharge the United States of and from all and all manner of debts, dues, sums and sums of money, accounts, reckonings, claims and demands whatsoever, in law or in equity, for or by reason of or on account of the construction of said vessel under the contract aforesaid," is to be regarded as the release which was provided for in the original contract as "a final release * * * of all claims of any kind or description under or by virtue of said contract," and it includes not merely the contract price, but all claims arising out of such contract by reason of the breach thereby by the adversary party.6 A release of claims arising out of an act which is done when such release is given, includes consequences of such act which are not discovered until after such release is given.7
2 England. In re Perkins [18981, 2 Ch. 182.
United States. Texas & Pacific Ry. v. Dashiell, 198 U. S. 521, 49 L. ed 1150.
Massachusetts. Rich v. Lord, 35 Mass. (18 Pick.) 322.
Mississippi. Yazoo & M. Valley R. Co. v. Smith. 90 Miss. 44, 10 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1202, 43 So. 611.
New Jersey. Van Slyke v. Van Slyke. 80 N. J. L. 382. 31 L. R. A. (N.S.) 778. 78 Atl. 179.
New York. Jackson v. Stackhouse, 1 Cow. (N. Y.) 322, 13 Am. Dec. 514.
Pennsylvania. Heiser v. Reynolds, - Pa. St. - , 106 Atl. 886.
3 Yazoo & M. Valley R. Co. v. Smith, 90 Miss. 44, 10 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1202, 43 So. 611.
4 Chicago Union Traction Co. v. v. O'Connell, 224 111. 428, 8 L. R. A. (NS.) 1034, 79 N. K. 622; Van Slyke v. Van Slyke, 80 N. J. L. 382, 31 L. R. A. (N.55.) 778, 78 Atl. 179.
See also, in a case of tort, Hooyman v. Reeve, - Wis. - , 170 N. W. 282.
5 Chicago Union Traction Co. v. O'Connell. 224 111. 428, 8 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1034. 79 N. E. 622.
6 United States v. WilKam Cramp Ship & Engine Building Co., 206 U. S. 118, 51 L. ed. 983.
Whether a release includes an existing contract or covenant which has not yet been broken, is a question which depends upon the intention of the parties, and this in turn depends upon the language which is used. A release of actions, or claims, and the like, ordinarily applies only to contracts or covenants which have been broken when the release is given; while a release from all covenants, or from all contracts, and the like, includes contracts in existence, whether broken or not.8