Musgrove v. Petters, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12410, No. 92 C 3267, 1992 WL 205858, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 19, 1992). "Duress is defined as the imposition, oppression, undue influence or the taking advantage of the stress of another whereby one is deprived of the exercise of his free will." Moore v. Cooper, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5387, No. 94 C 788, 1996 WL 207187, at *2 (N.D. Ill. April 24, 1996). The party asserting duress must prove the allegation by clear and convincing evidence. Id.
Plaintiff attempts to support her allegation of duress with the following expression in her affidavit: "during [the settlement conference], I felt that I was pressured by the judge to say yes to a settlement agreement. The judge made me feel like I could not go home and think about it -- that I had to say yes on the spot." Plaintiff's generalized expression of subjective feeling is fatally conclusory and wholly unsupported by specific factual averments to support a claim of duress. Plaintiff's statement is not borne out by the record, in any event. Initially, two attorneys represented Plaintiff's interests at the settlement conference and the subsequent proceedings on the record that date: (1) Plaintiff's privately engaged counsel and (2) counsel for the Chicago Teachers Union (who represented Plaintiff in the arbitration). Moreover, and critically, as seen, neither Plaintiff nor Plaintiff's attorney ever raised this issue in the subsequent written memorialization correspondence to Defendant's attorney or in subsequent proceedings before the Magistrate Judge. In short, under the circumstances here, Plaintiff's conclusory statement alone falls well short of demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that she was "deprived of the exercise of her free will."
Plaintiff's next and perhaps most revealing complaint here is that "it would be unfair to force Plaintiff to settle on terms with which she is unhappy." (Pl. Resp. at p. 2.) However, it is established law that "a mere change of mind is not sufficient grounds for setting aside a settlement agreement." Moore v. Cooper, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5387, No. 94 C 788, 1996 WL 207187, at *2 (N.D. Ill. April 24, 1996). As the Seventh Circuit has stated, "[a] party to a settlement cannot avoid the agreement merely because he subsequently believes the settlement insufficient[.] ... If a party to a . . . suit who has previously authorized a settlement changes his mind . . ., that party remains bound by the terms of the agreement." Glass, 788 F.2d at 454-55.
Plaintiff also contends that this court should not enforce the settlement because Defendant has failed to "help Plaintiff find a position" and that "Plaintiff's ability to get another job was part and parcel of the settlement negotiations." However, the court's review of the March 12, 1997 proceedings before the Magistrate Judge does not disclose that there was such an agreement between the parties. Instead, the record discloses that Defendant agreed to (and did twice) furnish Plaintiff with a list of vacant Chicago Public School positions. Indeed, in his March 14, 1997 letter, Plaintiff's attorney acknowledged that Defendant merely agreed that "when a principal tells Defendant that he or she wishes to hire Plaintiff, Defendant will approve the hiring. Of course, it will be Plaintiff's obligation to interview and get a principal to hire her." Thus, the record does not support, as Plaintiff contends, that Plaintiff's ability to get another job was "part and parcel of the settlement negotiations" or that Defendant has not complied with the settlement terms.
Plaintiff finally maintains that the written settlement documents contain some items which were not part of the parties' oral agreement. In its reply brief, Defendant characterizes these items as "boilerplate settlement agreement language" and states that it would be willing to consider different language. Although these items do not appear at first glance to be material, the court agrees with Plaintiff that the oral agreement reached between the parties on March 12, 1997 did not include these specific items. Therefore, although the parties' oral agreement noted earlier remains enforceable, this court cannot enforce the additional terms noted by Plaintiff.
See, e.g., Dhaliwal v. Woods Div., 1990 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4989, No. 86 C 20375, 1990 WL 53163, at *4 (N.D. Ill. April 12, 1990), aff'd, 930 F.2d 547 (7th Cir. 1991).
For the reasons set forth above, this court grants Defendant's motion to enforce the settlement agreement on the terms recited, and here confirmed, at page 2 of this opinion and order. Also confirmed and incorporated herein by reference as part of the settlement agreement are the proposed written settlement documents
(with the deletions set forth in footnote 6 of this opinion). See, e.g., Dhaliwal, 1990 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4989, 1990 WL 53163, at *4.
This court thus orders Defendant to tender payment of $ 90,977.05 to Plaintiff within 30 days, upon which payment the parties will be mutually and generally released from any and all claims that they may have against each other (excepting Defendant's aforedescribed responsibilities as to help facilitate Plaintiff's hiring). See Allstate Fin., 936 F. Supp. at 529-30.
Accordingly, the cause is dismissed with prejudice. The court retains jurisdiction of the cause for 120 days to enforce the settlement terms as to Defendant's aforedescribed responsibilities to help facilitate Plaintiff's hiring. In this regard, Defendant is ordered to provide Plaintiff within thirty (30) days a current list of teacher vacancies in the Chicago Public Schools within Plaintiff's certification.
IAN H. LEVIN
United States Magistrate Judge
Dated: November 19, 1997