Conflict of Laws – Release in a Tort Action – Effect of Lex Loci Delicti and Contractus

Plaintiff, defendant, and a third party were involved in a three-car collision in Virginia. Plaintiff settled an action against the third party’s estate by executing a release, entered into in New York, in which plaintiff reserved any claims which he might have against the defendant. He then sued defendant, a resident of Pennsylvania, in a federal district court in Pennsylvania. The lower court, applying Virginia law to determine the effect of a release of one joint tortfeasor, dismissed plaintiff’s action. On appeal, held, affirmed. The law of the place of the tort governs the effect of a release, not the law of the state in which the release was executed. Bittner v. Little, (3d Cir. 1959) 270 F. (2d) 286.