United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING DEFENDANTS'
OBJECTIONS; (2) ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION; AND (3) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
ENFORCE SETTLMENT AND DISMISS
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is the report and recommendation (Dkt. #
152) of United States Magistrate Judge David R. Grand, to
whom the case had been referred to for review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B). Defendants Woodhaven
Police Department, Frank Zdankiewcz, Ryan Smith, Brian Baker,
Toth, Burst, City of Woodhaven, and Michael Graham have filed
a motion to enforce a purported settlement agreement and
dismiss the case. (Dkt. # 137.) The magistrate judge
recommends that this motion be denied, finding that there has
been no “meeting of the minds” as to whether
Defendants would structure the payment such that the State
Treasurer would not be able to seize it under the State
Correctional Facility Reimbursement Act, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 800.401 et seq. (Id.)
filed objections (Dkt # 156) to the report and recommendation
and Plaintiff Mark Chomos has filed a pro se
response. (Dkt. # 158). The court will overrule the
objections, adopt the report and recommendation, and deny the
motion for the reasons provided below.
filing of timely objections requires the court to “make
a de novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1). See United States
v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); United States v.
Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981). This de novo
review requires this court to examine the relevant pleadings
and such evidence as may have been submitted in support of
the motions. A failure to file objections, or a failure to
file specific objections, constitutes a waiver of
any further right of appeal. United States v.
Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981); Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Howard v. Sec'y of
HHS, 932 F.2d 505 (6th Cir. 1991).
order for this court to apply meaningful de novo review, it
is insufficient for the objecting party to simply incorporate
by reference earlier pleadings or reproduce an earlier
unsuccessful motion for dismissal or judgment (or response to
the other party's dispositive motion). Insufficient
objections to a magistrate judge's analysis will
ordinarily be treated by the court as an unavailing general
objection. See Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d 721,
725 (6th Cir. 2006) (“Overly general objections do not
satisfy the objection requirement.”).
raise two objections to the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation. First, Defendants contend that the magistrate
judge erroneously applied a subjective standard, as opposed
to an objective standard, in finding that the parties'
agreement lacked a “meeting of the minds.” (Dkt.
# 156, Pg. ID 3244-47.) Second, Defendants argue that the
magistrate judge erred in noting that “Defendants were
to make a $500 initial deposit into Chomos' [sic]
prisoner account, and no such payment is reflected in
Defendants' proposed settlement agreement (or was ever
made), arguing that Plaintiff waived that requirement.
(Id. at Pg. ID 3247-51.)
courts have an equitable power to enforce a settlement
agreement, Brock v. Scheuner Corp., 841 F.2d 151,
154 (6th Cir.1988). A valid settlement agreement, like a
contract, requires a meeting of the minds on all the
essential terms. Burkhardt v. Bailey, 260 Mich.App.
636, 655, 680 N.W.2d 453 (2004). “A meeting of the
minds is judged by an objective standard, looking to the
express words of the parties and their visible acts, not
their subjective states of mind.” Kamalnath v.
Mercy Mem. Hosp. Corp., 194 Mich.App. 543, 548, 487
N.W.2d 499 (1992).
exercising its equitable power to enforce a settlement, such
exercise is restricted to cases where there is no dispute or
ambiguity as to either the entry into, or the terms of the
agreement. Kukla v. National Distillers Products
Co., 483 F.2d 619, 621 (6th Cir.1973). To enforce a
settlement, a “district court must conclude that
agreement has been reached on all material terms.”
Brock, 841 F.2d at 154. See also ThermaScan Inc.
v. Thermoscan, Inc., 217 F.3d 414, 419-20 (6th
first objection is entirely premised on the assertion that
“the objective actions of the parties clearly indicate
a settlement without [terms relating to payment in such a way
as to be protected from seizure] and Plaintiff has offered
nothing more than his subjective understanding of the terms
to counter this evidence.” (Dkt. # 156, Pg. ID
3444-45.) Defendants further aver that the parties agreed to
settle for $ 12, 500 at the settlement conference, thus
establishing the contract, and that “Plaintiff's
only argument against these facts is an affidavit of
his own testimony . . . indicating that he understood the
terms differently.” (Id. at Pg. ID 3246-47
(emphasis in original).) The court disagrees.
point to a December 5, 2016 email with a “Proposed Full
and Final Release and Stipulated Order of Dismissal, ”
claiming that it shows a memorialization of the settlement
agreement. (Dkt. # 156-2.) But, as the magistrate judge
noted, Plaintiff's power of attorney responded the next
day, December 6, 2016, stating that the “full and final
release” contained multiple terms that were not agreed
upon during the settlement conference and that Plaintiff
would not accept the additions. (Dkt. # 147, Pg. ID 3193.)
magistrate judge quoted the following particularly relevant
Also, you specifically stated during  the mediation that
you would structure the settlement so that the MDOC would not
be able to go after Mr[.] Chomos for any of the settlement
money. Please include this language in the revised release as
well, as it was a major factor in Mr. Chomo's [sic]
decision to settle.
(Dkt. # 152, Pg. ID 3232 (quoting Dkt. # 147, Pg. ID 3193).)
communication constitutes objective evidence that there was
no mutual assent to the same material terms. Further, it took
place a full week before the State Treasurer's action was
filed, severely undermining Defendants' contention in
their underlying brief that “the overwhelming and
obvious implication is that Plaintiff's decision to
reject settlement was wholly driven by the
initiation of the State Treasurer's lawsuit.” (Dkt.