United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Collins United States Magistrate Judge.
April 2, 2018, the undersigned Magistrate Judge conducted a
settlement conference with the parties (DE 58), during which
the parties reached a resolution of this matter and executed
a written Settlement Agreement (DE 62-1). Now before the
Court is a motion for rescission (DE 59), together with a
supporting memorandum (DE 60) and a letter (DE 61), filed by
Plaintiff Tyquan Stewart; although Stewart is represented by
counsel in this matter, Stewart filed the motion, memorandum,
and letter pro se. After Stewart sought rescission,
Defendants Parkview Hospital, Inc., and Lakisha Houston
(together, “Parkview”), filed a motion to enforce
the Settlement Agreement (DE 62). Stewart filed a response
(DE 63) to the motion to enforce pro se; Parkview
has not filed a reply brief, and its time to do so has now
passed. N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(d)(2)(B).
10, 2018, Chief Judge Theresa L. Springmann entered an Order
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 72(b), and Northern District of Indiana Local
Rule 72-1(b), referring this case to me to prepare a report
and recommendation. (DE 64). Having now reviewed the motions
and supporting materials, I recommend that Parkview's
motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement be GRANTED and
that Stewart's motion for rescission of the Settlement
Agreement be DENIED.
Factual and Procedural Background
April 29, 2016, Stewart, who was proceeding pro se
at the time, filed this case against Parkview and various
other Defendants, alleging claims of medical malpractice,
discrimination, and cruel and unusual punishment. (DE 1). As
to Parkview, Stewart alleged that it committed medical
malpractice by refusing him treatment at Parkview's
Behavioral Health Hospital, immediately after which he
crashed his car in an attempt to commit suicide. (DE 1).
Stewart amended his complaint twice. (DE 3; DE 5). After the
Court screened Stewart's second amended complaint in
connection with his application to proceed in forma
pauperis, only Stewart's claims against Parkview
remained. (DE 8).
October 27, 2016, Attorneys Christopher C. Myers and David W.
Frank filed an appearance on Stewart's behalf. (DE 22; DE
23). A month later, Stewart, through counsel, filed a third
amended complaint, alleging, among other things, that
Parkview violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active
Labor Act (“EMTALA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, by
refusing him emergency treatment. (DE 28 ¶¶ 3,
conducted a preliminary pretrial conference with the parties
on December 1, 2016, at which a discovery deadline of July 7,
2017, was established. (AR 33). Parkview filed a motion for
summary judgment on August 25, 2017 (DE 43), which was
granted in part and denied in part by Chief Judge Springmann
on October 20, 2017 (DE 49); Stewart's EMTALA and
negligence claims against Parkview survived (DE 49 at 11). A
trial date of June 18, 2018, was then set. (DE 51).
December, 8, 2017, the parties filed a joint motion for a
judicial settlement conference. (DE 53). On April 2, 2018, I
conducted a settlement conference with the parties, at which
Stewart; David Frank, Stewart's counsel; David Stack,
in-house counsel for Parkview, and Mark Baeverstad, outside
counsel to Parkview, all appeared in person. (DE 58). At the
conference, which lasted for more than four hours, the
parties reached a resolution of the case and executed a
one-page, handwritten Settlement Agreement. (DE 58; DE 62-1).
The Settlement Agreement reads:
Tyquan Stewart and Parkview Hospital, Inc agree to settle all
claims arising out of the incident of December 20, 2015 by
payment in the amount of $23, 000.00 (Twenty Three Thousand)
to Tyquan Stewart and his attorney.
Tyquan Stewart agrees to dismiss, with prejudice, the lawsuit
pending in the United States District Court, Cause No.
1:16-CV-00138-JTM-SLC. Parkview Hospital, Inc will prepare
and present to Tyquan Stewart and his attorney a release of
all claims against Parkview Hospital, Inc and Lakisha
Houston, which Tyquan will execute.
(DE 62-1). The Settlement Agreement was signed by Stack, as
Director of Risk Management, and Stewart. (DE 62-1). At the
end of the conference, the Court went on the record and asked
Attorney Frank whether the Settlement Agreement reflected the
parties' intentions, and Attorney Frank responded
affirmatively. The Court then asked Stewart whether he agreed
with the Settlement Agreement, to which Stewart responded:
“Yes, yes, Ma'am.” The Court then asked
Parkview whether they were in agreement with the terms of the
Settlement Agreement, and they, too, responded affirmatively.
I instructed the parties to finalize and file the dismissal
papers by May 3, 2018. (DE 58).
days later, on April 11, 2018, Stewart filed the instant
motion for rescission pro se, together with a
supporting memorandum, contending that his counsel misled and
deceived him into settling this case at the settlement
conference. (DE 59; DE 60). On April 16, 2018, Stewart filed
a letter seeking the same relief. (DE 61). On April 17, 2018,
Parkview responded by filing the instant motion to enforce
the Settlement Agreement (DE 62), and Stewart filed a
response to that motion pro se on April 25, 2018 (DE
63). The motions are now ripe for ruling.
Applicable Legal Standard
agreement to settle claims in a federal court is enforceable
“just like any other contract.” Dillard v.
Starcon Int'l, Inc., 483 F.3d 502, 506 (7th Cir.
2007). Local contract law governs issues regarding the
formation, construction, and enforceability of a settlement
agreement. Pohl v. United Airlines, Inc., 213 F.3d
336, 338 (7th Cir. 2000). Under Indiana law, which governs
here, an agreement to settle a lawsuit is generally
enforceable. Zimmerman v. McColley, 826 N.E.2d 71,
76-80 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005). As “[s]ettlement agreements
are governed by the same general principles of contract law
as any other agreement, ” they require “[a]n
offer, acceptance, [and] consideration.” Id.
at 76. “It is established that if a party agrees to
settle a ...