South Carolina Court of Appeals held that a release of an insurance company by a plaintiff did not release the company’s agents. Curry v. Carolina Ins. Grp. of SC, Inc., 832 W.E.2d 575 (S.C. Ct. App. 2019).
After an insurer denied coverage for an insured’s claim for building damage, the insured sued the insurer and alleged agents for negligence and gross negligence in the procurement of the policy. The alleged agents denied that they were agents of the insurer. The insurer offered to settle the claim in exchange for a release discharging the insurer, “its agents, servants, employers, successors[,] and assigns of and from any and all actions, causes of action, demands[,] and/or claims of whatsoever kind or nature prior to and including the date hereof.” All parties signed a stipulation of dismissal but stipulated that it did not affect the case against the agents.
The agents then moved for summary judgment, arguing (1) that the release amounted to a full compensation of claims and thus precluded additional damages and (2) that the release released the agents. Denying the motion, the court noted that even though the release stated that the amount paid by the insurer constituted full payment for all damages, losses, or injuries, no evidence was presented showing that the insured received full compensation of such injuries amounting to a satisfaction. court held that the release did not discharge the agents; rather, it merely provided a setoff against any damages awarded to the insured.
South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed, noting that the parties did not intend the release to discharge the insurer’s agents and that the insured testified that the amount he received for the insurer did not cover all his damages.