Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JARRETT v. ROTH

May 13, 2003

HEWLETT JARRETT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS P. ROTH, JERRY L. STERNES, WENDY MEYER, AND STEVE WENNMAKER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. Michael Mahoney, Magistrate Judge, United States District Court

Report and Recommendation

Hewlett Jarrett ("Plaintiff") filed two separate 42 U.S.C § 1983 prisoner civil rights claims — 01 C 50027 ("027 case") and 01 C 50354 ("354 case"). Both cases were allegedly settled. However, on February 20, 2003, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment ("Motion to Vacate") for the 027 case and on April 15, 2003, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment for the 354 case. On May 7, 2003, Thomas Roth, Jerry Sternes, Wendy Meyer, and Steve Wennmaker (collectively "Defendants") filed a Motion for Enforcement of Settlement Agreement. A hearing both motions was held on May 9, 2003, The Plaintiff was present via telephone. It is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that, as to the 027 case, Plaintiffs Motion to Vacate be denied and Defendants' Motion to Enforce Settlement be granted and the Settlement Agreement, attached as Exhibit A to this opinion, be entered as the courts judgment. Further, it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that, as to the 354 case, the case was terminated on January 31, 2003 and this court does not have jurisdiction. However, the Magistrate Judge notes that if the district court finds it has jurisdiction, then it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate be denied and Defendants' Motion to Enforce Settlement be granted as stated above.

BACKGROUND

Turning first to the 027 case, on April 27, 2001, Judge Reinhard entered a minute order granting Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel and subsequently appointed attorney David H. Carter. On June 15, 2001, Plaintiff filed his final amended complaint alleging that Defendants' policy of allowing only five stamped envelopes per month to prisoners confined to "C" grade in the psychiatric unit was a violation of Plaintiff's civil rights. On January 30, 2003, Plaintiff (participating via telephone), Plaintiff's counsel and Defendants' counsel appeared for a Settlement Conference during which all parties agreed to settle the case. This agreement and the terms were communicated to the court. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation that the case be dismissed as settled and on January 31, 2003, Judge Reinhard issued an order dismissing the case and giving the parties until March 3, 2003 to filed a stipulation of dismissal. The district court retained jurisdiction until the March 3, 2003 date. On February 20, 2003 Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate the judgment entered on January 30, 2003.

With regards to the 354 case, Plaintiff filed his complaint on October 1, 2001, alleging, inter alia, that Defendants violated Plaintiffs First Amendment and Due Process rights, and sought injunctive relief enjoining the Defendants from censoring Plaintiff's mail without a hearing. On October 31, 2001, Judge Reinhard entered an order granting Plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel and subsequently appointed attorney Robert A. Calgaro. As stated above, on January 30, 2003, Plaintiff (participating via telephone), Plaintiff's counsel and Defendants' counsel appeared for a Settlement Conference during which all parties agreed to settle the case. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation that the case be dismissed as settled and on January 31, 2003, Judge Reinhard issued an order dismissing the case and giving the parties until March 3, 2003 to filed a stipulation of dismissal. Unlike the 027 case, the docket sheet reflects the Plaintiff did not file a motion to vacate judgment for the 354 case until April 15, 2003, well after the March 3, 2003 date of retained jurisdiction.

Plaintiffs Motion to Vacate argues, that pursuant to Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff is entitled to vacate the settlement agreement because Plaintiff "tentatively entered into a settlement agreement" and Defendants cannot now uphold the conditions contained in the settlement agreement. (Pl.'s Mot. to Vacate at 1). Additionally, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge's January 30, 2003 order recommending that the case be dismissed was premature because it was "prior to Plaintiff being provided a written statement of conditions of dismissal." (Id.).

Defendants, on the other hand, argue that on January 30, 2003, the two above captioned cases were settled and within two weeks of orally agreeing to settle, Defendants counsel prepared a settlement agreement in draft form which Plaintiff and both his counsel reviewed, which Plaintiff ultimately signed. Subsequently, Defendants counsel sent out the final settlement agreement and Plaintiff refused to sign it, counter to the advice of his counsel. (Defs.' Mot. to Enforce Settlement at ¶ 5).

On May 9, 2003, Plaintiff's counsel, Defendants' counsel, and Plaintiff (via telephone) appeared before the Magistrate Judge. During this hearing, counsel for both sides indicated to the court that the final settlement agreement between Plaintiff and Defendants included all issues orally agreed upon by both sides at the January 30, 2003 settlement conference and that the document accurately reflected the agreement of the parties.

ANALYSIS

Generally, before a court will enforce a settlement agreement, the "traditional elements of a contract must be met. The parties will be bound by the agreement if there is clearly an offer to compromise, an acceptance, and a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the agreement." Caliber Packaging, Inc. v. Szot, No 97 C 2975, 1999 WL 409774, at *2 (N.D.Ill. June 7, 1999) (citing Fidelity Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. American Nat'l Bank & Trust Co., No 93 C 2851, 1994 WL 14639, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Jan 20, 1994)). In this case, it is clear that there was a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the agreement.

Plaintiff argues that, as to the 027 case, Defendants agreed to change their policy regarding stamps to prisoners confined to "C" grade in the psychiatric unit prison-wide and not just for the named Plaintiff However, Defendants' counsel and Plaintiff's own counsel indicated to the court, on the record, that the agreement as to the number of stamps allowed to a prisoner confined to "C" grade in the psychiatric unit was only to apply to the named Plaintiff. This is further supported by the fact that the agreement was to be confidential. Therefore, as the 027, the Magistrate Judge finds that there was a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the agreement and it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate the 027 case be denied and Defendants' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement be granted and the Settlement Agreement, attached as Exhibit A to this opinion, become the judgment of the district court.

The 354 case is a bit more complicated. Unlike the 027 case, where Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate before the March 3, 2003, in the 354 case the Plaintiff waited until April 15, 2003 to file a motion to vacate as to the 354 case. At this point, the Magistrate Judge does not believe the court had jurisdiction to hear the case. Thus, it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate be denied as the court does not have jurisdiction. However, if the district court finds that this court does have jurisdiction, it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that, as in the 027 case, that there was a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the settlement agreement and Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate the 354 case be denied and Defendants' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement be granted.

CONCLUSION

For the above mentioned reasons, it is the Report and Recommendation that, as to the 027 case, Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate be denied and Defendants' Motion to Enforce Settlement be granted and the Settlement Agreement, attached as Exhibit A to this opinion, be entered as a judgment of this court. As to the 354 case, it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate by denied because the court does not have jurisdiction. However, if the district court finds there is jurisdiction, it is the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate be denied and Defendants' Motion to Enforce Settlement be granted. The parties are given ten days from service of this Order, as calculated under Rule 6, to appeal to Judge Philip C. Reinhard, pursuant to Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

EXHIBIT A

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS WESTERN DIVISION
HEWLETT JARRETT, ) ) Plaintiff, ) No. 01 C 50027 ) v. ) Hon. Judge P. Michael Mahoney ) Presiding Judge THOMAS P. ROTH, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ) HEWLETT M. JARRETT, ) ) Plaintiff, ) No. 01 C 50354 ) v. ) ) Hon. Philip G. Reinhard JERRY L. STERNES, WENDY ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.