Say It Isn’t So: Release of Principal No Longer Releases Agent in Certain Circumstances

March 9, 2010Articles The Legal Intelligencer

In Maloney v. Valley Medial Facilities, Inc., a medical malpractice action against two physicians for alleged negligence in failing to timely diagnose and treat plaintiff's wife and against their institutional employers for vicarious liability, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court turned on its head 16 years of settled law that the release of a vicariously liable principal results in the discharge of an agent. A release of a principal no longer automatically acts as a release of an agent where parties have expressly carved out or excepted claims against the agent. Although this decision suggests the court will conduct a fact sensitive analysis and focus on intention of the parties, the full impact of the decision remains unclear.