In addition to communicating clearly with your attorney concerning settlement agreements in order to avoid being bound to an agreement you do not want, it is very important to specify what is being settled and who you are settling with.  A release can be as narrow or as broad as needed, and can resolve certain types of claims or (more commonly) all claims that may exist – whether known or unknown.

As a defendant, you will want the broadest release possible to ensure no further disputes or claims.  As a plaintiff, you will want the release to be narrowly tailored to the greatest extent possible (understanding that defendants rarely agree to partial releases).  Moreover, as a plaintiff, it is very important that the parties being released are specifically delineated.  A plaintiff can settle with one party, but still have claims against others which may or may not be released depending on the language of the settlement.

Michael L. Kitchen