United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
COLLINS SUSAN COLLINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
April 17, 2018, the parties informed the Court during a
telephonic status conference that the parties had reached an
agreement to settle this case, and the Court directed the
parties to file a stipulation of dismissal within 14 days.
(DE 72). The parties, however, failed to file the
stipulation. On June 13, 2018, the Court held a telephonic
status conference during which Attorney Christopher Myers,
counsel to Plaintiff Michael Ward, advised the Court that the
case had indeed settled but that Ward would not honor the
settlement. (DE 75).
14, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Enforce Settlement
Agreement. (DE 76). Ward has not filed a response to the
motion, and his time to do so has now passed. N.D. Ind. L.R.
7-1(d)(2)(A). For the following reasons, Defendants'
motion will be GRANTED.
relevant facts as represented by Defendants are as follows:
On April 16, 2018, Attorney Myers informed Attorney Carolyn
Trier, counsel to Defendants, that Ward accepted
Defendants' offer of $6, 000 to settle this lawsuit, and
that Ward is not considered a prevailing party and is not
entitled to any additional money for attorney fees. (DE 76 at
1). That same day, Attorney Trier sent a letter to Attorney
Myers confirming that this case had settled for $6, 000, and
that Ward is not the prevailing party and that the $6, 000
settlement amount includes attorney fees. (DE 76-1). Attorney
Trier enclosed a Release and Hold Harmless Agreement (the
“Release”) with the letter, which Ward was to
sign and have notarized and return, together with a
stipulation to dismiss and a proposed court order. (DE 76-1).
Attorney Trier stated that once she received the signed and
notarized Release back from Attorney Myers, she would order
the settlement check from the City of Fort Wayne, send the
settlement check to Attorney Myers, and then file the
stipulation and proposed court order. (DE 76-1).
11, 2018, Attorney Trier sent a letter to Attorney Myers
inquiring about the status of the Release. (DE 76-2). On May
30, 2018, Attorney Trier sent another letter to Attorney
Myers asking about the status of the Release. (DE 76-2). On
June 14, 2018, Defendants filed the instant motion to enforce
the settlement agreement. (DE 76).
Applicable Legal Standard
district court has inherent authority to enforce a settlement
agreement reached in litigation pending before it.”
Tuttle v. SMS Corp. Of Am., No.
1:07-cv-1238-DFH-JMS, 2008 WL 4082433, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Aug.
29, 2008) (citing Carr v. Runyan, 89 F.3d 327, 331
(7th Cir. 1996); Wilson v. Wilson, 46 F.3d 660, 667
(7th Cir. 1995)); see also Hakim v. Payco-Gen. Am.
Credits, Inc., 272 F.3d 932, 935 (7th Cir. 2001);
Sims-Madison v. Inland Paperboard & Packaging,
379 F.3d 445, 448-50 (7th Cir. 2004). An 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). State 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).
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 pending
action, but then refuses to consummate his settlement
agreement, the opposing party may obtain a judgment enforcing
the agreement.” Id. (citing Georgos v.
Jackson, 790 N.E.2d 448, 453 (Ind. 2003)).
to settle are “enforceable against a plaintiff who
knowingly and voluntarily agreed to the terms of the
settlement or authorized his attorney to settle the
dispute.” Glass v. Rock Island Ref. Corp., 788
F.2d 450, 454 (7th Cir. 1986) (internal quotations omitted)
(applying Indiana law); see Whittington v. Trs. of Purdue
Univ., No. 2:09 cv 9, 2011 WL 1336514, at *2 (N.D. Ind.
Apr. 5, 2011) (“The parties must knowingly and
voluntarily enter into the agreement either personally or by
providing their attorneys with authority to settle.”
(citation omitted)). Once an agreement is reached, “[a]
party to a settlement cannot avoid the agreement merely
because he subsequently believes the settlement insufficient
. . . .” Glass, 788 F.2d at 454 (citation
omitted). A party who has previously authorized a settlement
remains bound by its terms even if he changes his mind.
Id. at 454-55.
has not responded to Defendants' motion to enforcement
the settlement agreement, and therefore, the motion is
unopposed. The evidence presented by Defendants in the motion
(DE 76-1 to DE 71-3), as well as the representations of both
parties' counsel at the telephonic status conferences on
April 17, 2018, and June 13, 2018 (DE 72; DE 75), indicate
that there was “a meeting of the minds” between
the parties with respect to the terms of the settlement.
Fox Dev., Inc. v. England, 837 N.E.2d 161, 165
(Ind.Ct.App. 2005); see Zimmerman v. McColley, 826
N.E.2d 71, 77 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005) (stating that the subjective
intent of the parties is not relevant and that Indiana courts
look to the outward manifestation of the parties' intent
to determine if there truly was a meeting of the minds). The
parties agreed that Defendants will pay $6, 000 to Ward,
which amount includes attorney fees, to settle all of
Ward's claims against Defendants arising out of the July
23 and July 24, 2014, incident. Because there was a valid
offer, acceptance, and consideration as to the material terms
of the settlement, see Zimmerman, 826 N.E.2d at
76-80, there is a valid and enforceable settlement agreement.
Ward now may feel unhappy about the settlement is
“neither here nor there.” Allen v. Dana,
No. 1:10-cv-281 PPS-RBC, 2011 WL 3163232, at *2 (N.D. Ind.
July 26, 2011) (collecting cases). Ward remains bound by the
terms of the settlement even if he has since had a change of
heart. See Id. at 454-55. Consequently,
Defendants' motion to enforce the settlement agreement
will be GRANTED.