United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
6, 2019, I conducted a settlement conference, at the
conclusion of which the parties reached a settlement that was
placed on the record. See Transcript of Settlement,
ECF No. 31. Defendants have now filed a Motion to Enforce
Settlement Agreement [ECF No. 27], stating that
“Plaintiff has refused to sign the release that was
approved by all counsel of record, thereby depriving
Defendants of the benefit of their bargain.” ECF No.
settlement negotiations on June 6, 2019, at which all parties
were represented by counsel, the terms of the settlement were
placed on the record, and Plaintiff was questioned as to both
her understanding and acceptance of the agreement.
Plaintiff’s counsel stated the terms as follows:
“MR. TRAINOR: In lieu of proceeding any further and
taking this to trial, Ms. Tribblett has agreed to accept $15,
000 as full and final resolution of this matter and can never
come back to this Court again on this case.”
ECF No. 31, Page.ID.129. Defense counsel added that “there
will be an execution of a full release.” Id.
then testified under oath that she understood that she was
settling the case for $15, 000; that she had the right to
forward with a trial at which she might obtain more money,
less money, or no money at all; that no one forced her to
accept this agreement and that she was satisfied with the
settlement amount and with the services of her attorney; that
her attorney was entitled to fees and costs out of the
settlement amount, and that she would net about $7, 929.00;
and that she was “okay with that.” When asked by
the Court if she had any question, she replied that she did
not. Transcript, ECF No. 31, Page.ID.130-132.
Plaintiff’s response to this motion states, “[I]t
is Plaintiff’s wish to set aside the settlement that
she agreed to on June 6, 2019, and Plaintiff’s counsel
is ethically duty bound to represent her and respect her
wishes. Accordingly, and given Plaintiff’s wishes, the
settlement agreement should be set aside.” ECF No. 28,
Court has the equitable power to enforce a settlement
agreement, Brock v. Scheuner Corp., 841 F.2d 151,
154 (6th Cir.1988), that remedy being contained 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). Thus, "[b]efore enforcing settlement, the
district court must conclude that agreement has been reached
on all material terms." Brock, 841 F.2d at 154.
See also Therma-Scan, Inc. v. Thermoscan, Inc., 217
F.3d 414, 419 -420 (6th Cir. 2000).
the parties have agreed on settlement, the strengths or
weaknesses of their respective litigation positions are
beside the point. “Once concluded, a settlement
agreement is as binding, conclusive, and final as if it had
been incorporated into a judgment and the actual merits of
the antecedent claims will not thereafter be examined.”
Bostick Foundry Co. v. Lindberg, 797 F.2d 280, 283
(6th Cir. 1986).
agreements are a type of contract and are therefore governed
by contract law.” Bamerilease Capital Corp. v.
Nearburg, 958 F.2d 150, 152 (6th Cir.1992). Therefore,
“whether a settlement agreement is a valid contract
between the parties is determined by reference to state
substantive law governing contracts generally.”
Id. In Michigan (as in most, if not all American
jurisdictions), “[t]he primary goal in the construction
or interpretation of any contract is to honor the intent of
the parties.” Rasheed v. Chrysler Corp., 445
Mich. 109, 127 n. 28, 517 N.W.2d 19 (1994).
of its inherent power to enforce a settlement agreement, the
Court may require a party to sign releases or other documents
reflecting the terms of the settlement. Jaynes v.
Austin, 20 Fed.App’x 421, 426 (6th Cir.
2001), citing Aro Corp. v. Allied Witan Co., 531
F.2d 1368, 1371-72 (6th Cir. 1976).