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Chenault v. Randstad USA Manufacturing And Logistics

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

May 20, 2019

CORY L. CHENAULT, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
RANDSTAD USA MANUFACTUING AND LOGISTICS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Joint Motion to Enforce the October 1, 2018 Settlement Agreement. (DE 60). Defendant Randstad USA Manufacturing and Logistics has also filed a Motion to Strike Cory Chenault's sur-reply to the Motion to Enforce. (DE 70). For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Strike (DE 70) is GRANTED and the Motion to Enforce (DE 60) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Cory Chenault filed suit pro se against Randstad USA Manufacturing and Logistics (“Randstad”) and Saddle Creek Logistic Services (“Saddle Creek”) seeking damages for employment related disputes. (DE 1 at 3.) The parties convened for a Settlement Conference on October 1, 2018 in front of United States Magistrate Judge Gregory Wehrman. (DE 51). The minute entry for the Settlement Conference states that “[t]he parties have reached a settlement agreement and plaintiff is in the process of reviewing release documents tendered by defendants.” Judge Wehrman further ordered that “[o]n or before OCTOBER 24, 2018 parties shall advise the Court if the settlement documents have been executed; [and] [o]n or before NOVEMBER 2, 2018 the parties shall submit the signed stipulation of dismissal to Chief Judge Caldwell absent which the Court will enter its own dismissal order.” (DE 51.)

         Following the Settlement Conference, Chenault contacted one of the Defendants and stated that he was entitled to more money. (DE 58 at 8.) On October 23, 2018, the Court still had not received signed release documents from the parties. (DE 58 at 2-3.) Further, the Court and the Defendants were having difficulty communicating with Chenault. (DE 58 at 2-3.) Accordingly, the Court held a telephone conference with the parties to determine the status of the case. (DE 55). The minute entry for the telephone conference states that-

At the conclusion of the October 1, 2018 settlement conference the parties reached a monetary agreement and plaintiff asked for additional time to review the release documents presented to him by defense counsel. The Court directed Mr. Chenault to consult with an attorney regarding the release document and to report back by October 24. Unfortunately Mr. Chenault failed to consult with counsel and has orally requested a second settlement conference. After adequate discussion with counsel and Mr. Chenault, accordingly; IT IS SO ORDERED:
1. Plaintiff's oral request for a second settlement conference is DENIED;
2. This file is returned to the chambers of Chief Judge Karen Caldwell for further order. (DE 55.)

         The Court has reviewed the transcript from the telephone conference. (DE 58). Counsel for Saddle Creek, Kevin Roberts, explained that he attempted to contact Chenault to determine the status of the release documents. (DE 58 at 2-3.) After several failed attempts, Roberts was finally able to speak with Chenault, who stated that he believed he was entitled to more money and requested another settlement conference. (DE 58 at 2-9.) During the telephone conference, Judge Wehrman stated-

I did speak with Mr. Chenault yesterday…he basically said to me the same thing he said to Kevin Roberts; that he wanted to reconvene the settlement conference. I reminded him that we had reached a final settlement agreement of $3, 600, and his reply was that I don't think Randstad paid enough in this case. (DE 58 at 4.)

         Judge Wehrman later reiterated “as far as I'm concerned, I believe that you did have a settlement on the monetary aspect of the case.” (DE 58 at 5.) He further explained that there was no reason to conduct another settlement conference because the parties had already had one. (DE 58 at 5.) Chenault responded, “I feel that we would need another settlement conference because I wasn't pleased with the settlement nor the contract.” (DE 58 at 5.) Judge Wehrman then asked Chenault if he had complied with the Court's order to contact a lawyer concerning the release documents. (DE 58 at 6.) Chenault responded that he did not, and when asked why, he stated “I didn't really agree with the contract so I - you know, I know you're not representing me. It's pretty much that I didn't agree with the contract.” (DE 58 at 6.)

         Chenault went on to state that during his conversation with Roberts, Roberts told him that his client was not “pleased with the contract” either. (DE 58 at 7.) Roberts replied that Chenault's characterization of their conversation was inaccurate. (DE 58 at 7.) Chenault then stated “[s]o you was [sic] please with the contract? Is that what you're saying now?” Judge Wehrman replies “[t]he contract, I believe he's referring to the release.” Roberts then went on to explain the conversation he had with Chenault again. Roberts stated that he told Chenault that his clients were not likely to entertain another settlement conference, but that he never stated that his clients were not “pleased about the contract.” (DE 58 at 8.) Chenault then asked why the Defendants moved for an extension. (DE 58 at 8-9.) The record indicates that Chenault was confused by the nature of the extension granted by the Court. The Court had granted an extension to the Defendants to answer the Complaint. (DE 57). Defense counsel responded to Chenault's question by stating: “the request [was] for additional time to answer your complaint…so that the parties could give you an opportunity to consult with an attorney regarding the agreement. That way, if we didn't have to file an answer, we could wait on that until after the October 24th date.” (DE 58 at 9.) Chenault replied-appearing to still not understand the nature of the extension-“[y]eah, I didn't need an extension. I just needed to get in touch with [defense counsel] before now that I wasn't agreeing to the contract. I didn't need an extension. So I guess there wasn't no necessary need for no extension. Is that what you think [sic]?” (DE 58 at 9.) The Court then interjected and stated-

All right. Mr. Chenault, we're not going to resolve this case, and we're not going to have another settlement conference because we already had one. And you did reach a monetary agreement with them at the time. The only issue outstanding was the terms of the release, which you did not have an attorney review, which is what I strongly suggested that you do. In fact, I put it in the order. So I am simply going to indicate to the trial judge in this case that the parties have concluded the settlement negotiations, there remains a dispute as to the terms of the release, and I will send the file back to her, Judge Caldwell, and she will take the case from there. (DE 58 at 9-10.)

         Chenault responded “[a]ll right. Thank you very much. Have a good day.” (DE 58 at 10.)

         Following this conversation, the Defendants jointly filed a Motion to Enforce the settlement agreement. (DE 60). At Chenault's request, the Court granted him an extension to respond to the Defendants' Motion. (DE 67). The Court has reviewed the record and briefings tendered by the parties. The Defendants assert that the parties reached a verbal agreement at the Settlement Conference to pay $3, 600 to Chenault in exchange for a release of claims against them. (DE 60 at 1.) They request that the Court issue an order requiring Chenault to sign (1) a written agreement memorializing the verbal contract reached at the Settlement Conference and (2) a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice. (DE 60-1 at 7.) Chenault's response asserts that “during the conclusion of mediation…[he] express[ed] how he wasn't in agreement and/or oppose[ed] the settlement.” (DE 58 at 2.) He further stated that at the telephone conference he told Judge Wehrman and the Defendants that he “wasn't in agreement with settlement nor was he signing the agreement and/or consenting to it.” (DE 58 at 2.) For reasons further explained below, the Court finds that the parties entered into a verbal contract at the Settlement Conference on October 1, 2018.

         Chenault also filed a sur-reply to the Defendants' Motion to Enforce. (DE 69).

         Consequently, Defendant Randstad filed a Motion to Strike that sur-reply. (DE 70). As further explained below, ...


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