The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aspen, District Judge:
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This action was filed on July 30, 1982, as a complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1982 and 42 U.S.C. § 3604. Plaintiffs asserted that
defendant apartment building owners and their agents had
refused to rent them an apartment because plaintiffs are black.
Prior to the matter coming to trial, opposing counsel met in
this Court's chambers on August 12, 1982, and agreed as a
settlement of the suit that plaintiffs would allow the action
to be dismissed in exchange for defendant's promise to pay them
the sum of $500.00.*fn1 On the same date, this Court entered a
minute order dismissing the cause with leave to reinstate on or
before August 31, 1982. On August 24, the Court entered an
order dismissing the cause with prejudice and allowing
plaintiffs to file a motion for attorney's fees or to enforce
the settlement. On September 3, plaintiffs moved to vacate the
order of dismissal on the grounds
that defendant had refused to honor the settlement agreement.
On September 10, plaintiffs moved in the alternative to
enforce the settlement and address attorney's fees. A briefing
schedule on the motion was set by the Court. Defendant has
failed to respond to the motions. Accordingly, presently
before the Court are plaintiffs' motions to reinstate and to
enforce the settlement and assess attorney's fees of $500.00,
to which defendant has failed to respond. Because we will
grant the motion to enforce the judgment and assess attorney's
fees, plaintiffs' motion to reinstate need not be discussed.
In the instant case, the Court is asked to enforce an oral
agreement entered into in settlement of litigation pending
before it. No persuasive argument can be found for the denial
of the motion on the facts before the Court. It is well
settled that courts retain inherent power to enforce
settlement agreements reached in litigation pending before
them. Fairfax Countywide Citizens v. Fairfax County,
571 F.2d 1299, 1304 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1047, 99 S.Ct.
722, 58 L.Ed.2d 706 (1978); Aro Corp. v. Allied Witan Co.,
531 F.2d 1368, 1371 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 862, 97
S.Ct. 165, 50 L.Ed.2d 140 (1976). This is because of the strong
policy in favor of settlement and the resulting avoidance of
costly and time-consuming litigation. Kukla v. National
Distillers Products Co., 483 F.2d 619 (6th Cir. 1973). This
power has been upheld even when agreements are oral rather than
written, Autera v. Robinson, 419 F.2d 1197 (D.C. Cir. 1969), as
in the instant case.
This inherent power may be summarily exercised by a court to
enforce a settlement agreement reached while a matter is
pending before it, Cia Anon Venezolana de Navegacion v. Harris,
374 F.2d 33 (5th Cir. 1967), unless there is a material dispute
about whether the negotiations reached the level of a binding
agreement. Massachusetts Casualty Ins. Co. v. Forman,
469 F.2d 259 (5th Cir. 1972), modified on other grounds, 516 F.2d 425
(1975), cert. denied, 424 U.S. 914, 96 S.Ct. 1114, 47 L.Ed.2d
319 (1976). In the instant case, defendant has raised no
argument that a settlement agreement was not reached, nor has
any assertion been made that the terms of the agreement have,
in fact, been met.*fn2 Summary enforcement is especially well
suited to a case, such as this, where there is no factual
dispute and no valid defense to enforcement. Autera at 1200,
text and n. 11.
For the reasons stated above, plaintiffs' motion to enforce
the settlement and assess attorney's fees is granted.
Plaintiffs' motion to reinstate is denied. Defendant is hereby
ordered to pay plaintiffs the $500.00 agreed to in the
settlement agreement of August 12, ...