The Leungs sued Nishibayashi and Verdugo Hills Hospital, and in 2007 won a jury verdict granting them $78,000 for past medical costs and nearly $83 million for future bills. Because the future-care portion would be paid through an annuity and other factors, Esner said the value of the verdict is roughly $96 million.
But the family had already accepted a $1-million settlement offer from Nishibayashi, the maximum on his medical malpractice insurance policy. The judge reluctantly approved the deal, leaving Verdugo Hills Hospital with the burden of fulfilling the jury’s judgment.
That’s where the release rule comes into play. The rule holds that when one party responsible for an injury reaches a settlement to dramatically reduce his or her liability, other responsible parties cannot be made to pay the rest of the tab.