United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
L. BUNNING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
City of Dry Ridge ("Dry Ridge"), Defendant Clay
Crupper in his individual capacity, and Defendant Clay
Crupper in his official capacity (collectively
"Defendants") have moved to enforce the settlement
agreement with Plaintiff Deborah Meadows. (Doc. # 27).
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a Motion for a Hearing or Oral
Argument Regarding Motion to Enforce Settlement. (Doc. # 36).
Both motions are fully briefed (Docs. # 34, 35, and 37) and
ripe for the Court's review.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 29, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant action (Doc. # 1)
asserting claims of First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment
violations arising out of her arrest and dispute with
Defendants concerning her water bills. (Doc. # 34 at 1).
November 22, 2016, Plaintiff and Defendants participated in a
settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Wehrman. (Doc. #
23). Although they were unable to reach an agreement, the
parties agreed to continue negotiations. Id. On
March 23, 2017, after discussing the matter with Plaintiff
and acting with her supposed authorization Plaintiffs
counsel sent Defendants' counsel an e-mail
which reads in relevant part:
This e-mail is to confirm our settlement in Meadows v. Dry
Ridge, etal., 15-cv-61, for a total of $50, 000 - $5, 000
going to Ms. Meadows and $45, 000 going to O'Hara,
Taylor, Sloan & Cassidy for fees and costs. As agreed,
there will be no confidentiality provision connected to this
settlement. We will provide you with our firm's W-9 in
the near future.
27 at Exhibit A). Within an hour, Defendants' attorney
responded, agreeing and saying that they would "draft
and send a Release and AOD." Id. That same day,
Magistrate Judge Wehrman issued an Order stating that the
case had been settled. (Doc. #24).
Plaintiff later informed her attorney that she no longer
wanted to accept the settlement. (Doc. # 34 at 2). Plaintiff
claimed that "she felt pressured to settle and did not
believe she would be committed to a settlement until she
signed an agreement." Id. Both parties agree
that Plaintiff never signed a written agreement; however,
Defendants maintain that the March 23, 2017 e-mail exchange
created an enforceable settlement. (Doc. # 27 at 4).
Accordingly, on April 21, 2017, Defendants moved to enforce
the settlement agreement. (Doc. # 27). Plaintiff denies the
existence of an enforceable settlement (Doc. # 34), and on
June 14, 2017, requested an evidentiary hearing to resolve an
alleged factual dispute as to whether or not she knowingly
and voluntarily accepted the terms of settlement. (Doc. #
Need for an Evidentiary Hearing
has requested an evidentiary hearing (Doc. # 36) on
Defendants' pending Motion to Enforce Settlement (Doc. #
27) pursuant to Kentucky Federal Court Rule 7.1(f), which
permits parties to request oral argument in a motion.
Plaintiff alternatively claims that oral argument is needed
to resolve the factual dispute as to whether she knowingly
and voluntarily accepted the settlement agreement. (Doc. # 36
at 1). Because the Court finds that the parties'
agreement contains no factual dispute, Plaintiff's Motion
for a Hearing or Oral Argument Regarding Motion to Enforce
Settlement is denied.
the Court has the power to summarily enforce settlement
agreements, it is customary to grant a party's request
for an evidentiary hearing if there is a substantial factual
dispute. Aro Corp. v. Allied Witan Co., 531 F.2d
1368, 1372 (6th Cir. 1976); see also Noga v. Parts
Assocs., Inc., No. 98-3789, 2000 WL 178385 at *2 (6th
Cir. Feb. 8, 2000). "However, no evidentiary hearing is
required where an agreement is clear and unambiguous and no
issue of fact is present." RE/MAX Int'l, Inc. v.
Realty One, Inc., 271 F.3d 633, 646 (6th Cir. 2001).
Thus, to determine whether Plaintiff's request for an
evidentiary hearing should be granted, the court must first
determine whether the parties' settlement agreement was
unambiguous or whether a substantial factual dispute remains.
settlement agreements are a form of contract, they are
subject to the substantive contract law of the forum state.
Bamerilease Capital Corp. v. Nearburg,958 F.2d 150,
152 (6th Cir. 1992); see also Hageman v. Signal LP. Gas,
Inc.,486 F.2d 479, 487 (6th Cir. 1973); Edwards v.
Hocking Valley Cmty. Hosp., 87 F.App'x 542, 550 (6th
Cir. 2004); Smith v. ABN AMRO Mortg. Grp. Inc., 434
F.App'x 454, 460 (6th Cir. 2011). Under Kentucky law,
settlement agreements must satisfy "the requirements
associated with contracts generally, i.e., offer and
acceptance, full and complete terms, and consideration."
Cantrell Supply, Inc. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 94
S.W.3d 381, 384 (Ky. ...