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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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If the plaintiff to a pending lawsuit dies, I know that his/her

Customer Question

If the plaintiff to a pending lawsuit dies, I know that his/her personal representatives or successors in interest can substitute in as plaintiffs. However, can the personal representatives and or successors in interest then release the defendants from all future claims as part of a settlement agreement? If so, what is the authority for this? Can you provide case law or statutory law for this answer please (I only want California Law)? Thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 1 year ago.

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, the Plaintiff (through the successor in interest) may release all claims (there will only be existing claims as any future claims will be against the estate or some other entity). Working with a Plaintiff in this type of situation does involve both the Civil Code and the Probate Code. There is an article in the LA Bar Association publication that is helpful in showing the interaction between the two codes, as well as giving citations to both codes that will likely be of assistance in showing the rights of the successors in interest for each party: http://www.lacba.org/showpage.cfm?pageid=3161

Customer :

Hello, yes I acutally have already read this article, but thank you for sending it. My main question is can the sucessor in interest release all claims as in all future claims as well? Can you provide the authority for their ability to do this. Also, does the sucessor in interest have the ability to settle the case on the plaintiffs behalf? Or would the sucessor need permission from the court to settle the case? I will pay more for a more detailed answer. Please provide authority. thanks.

William B. Esq. :

I cannot provide you authority for the successor to settle future claims. By definition a decedent cannot have future claims.

William B. Esq. :

Regarding the ability of a successor in interest to settle a case without court approval, the probate code governing court approval is found here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=prob&group=09001-10000&file=9830-9839

William B. Esq. :

(In general, Courts must approve all settlements)

Customer :

That is not true. A sucessor in interest may bring a lawsuit on the decedents behalf after the decedents death, so long as it is within the statute of limitations period. Therefore, the sucessor in interest can bring a future claim.

William B. Esq. :

True - future claims - but based on past acts.

William B. Esq. :

(my mistake)

William B. Esq. :

and apologies

William B. Esq. :

The same Probate statute applies.

Customer :

Thanks.

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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq.
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Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.