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Spector v. K-Mart Corporation

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division
471 N.Y.S.2d 711 (1984)


Facts

Douglas Spector (plaintiff) purchased two prescription drugs, Selacryn and Colchicine, from K-Mart Corporation (defendant) over a five-month period in 1979. Spector’s use of the drugs allegedly caused harmful effects. In January 1982, SmithKline Beckman Corporation (SmithKline) (third-party defendant), the manufacturer of Selacryn, paid Spector $40,000 in settlement. In exchange, Spector executed a general release that applied to SmithKline and “all other persons, firms, or corporations.” The instrument purported to release SmithKline and such other entities from all liability arising from Spector’s use of Selacryn, including “liability for contribution and/or indemnity.” In October 1982, Spector sued K-Mart in a New York state court for negligence, strict products liability, and breach of warranty. K-Mart brought SmithKline into the suit as a third-party defendant, asserting that SmithKline had duties of indemnification or contribution to K-Mart in the event of its liability. SmithKline moved to dismiss K-Mart’s third-party complaint on the ground that Spector’s release effectively applied to K-Mart in addition to SmithKline. The court denied SmithKline’s motion. SmithKline appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Memorandum decision)

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