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Weiss v. Campbell

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 23, 2017

DESIREE WEISS, Plaintiff,
v.
BENJAMIN R. CAMPBELL, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on defendant Benjamin R. Campbell's motion to delay entry of judgment and enforce settlement agreement (Doc. 63). The motion seeks to enforce an oral settlement agreement reached and recorded at a settlement conference on August 27, 2016. Campbell also seeks his attorney's fees for the work done to enforce the settlement agreement. Plaintiff Desiree Weiss has responded to the motion (Doc. 78).

         In this case, Weiss sued Campbell after she drove into a horse Campbell owned that was lying down in a road, causing Weiss injuries. Campbell now asks the Court to enforce the oral agreement he reached with Weiss at a settlement conference conducted by Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson on August 17, 2016. This was the third attempt at settling this case before Magistrate Judge Wilkerson; both of the prior efforts were unsuccessful. On August 17, 2016, Weiss, Campbell's insurer and their respective attorneys were present. Magistrate Judge Wilkerson conducted negotiations, at least some of which were ex parte, for more than two hours until the parties agreed to a settlement. Magistrate Judge Wilkerson memorialized that agreement by dictating the material terms of the agreement as he understood it into the record and confirmed that the parties agreed, a procedure recommended by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Lynch, Inc. v. SamataMason Inc., 279 F.3d 487, 490-91 (7th Cir. 2002). The relevant portions of the transcript of that record states:

THE COURT: Okay. This is Weiss v. Campbell, 3:15-cv-542-JPG. Today is August the 17th, 2016. It is 11:44 a.m. by the courtroom clock. We are here for a settlement conference. We started at approximately 9:30 this morning, and it's now 11:44 and the parties have reached a settlement in the case. . . .
The parties have reached a settlement. Defendants agree to pay Ms. Weiss a total of $50, 000 for a release of all claims. Each side will bear its own costs, which means, Ms. Weiss, that you will take care of your lawyer, they will take care of their lawyers, and 50, 000 is the amount that the Defendants will pay you. I want to make sure - This is a continuation of a settlement conference. I want to make sure on the record that everybody's agreeing with what I said.
So, Ms. Weiss, the microphone is down there in front of you. You agree that these are the terms of the settlement, correct?
MS. WEISS: I agree reluctantly.
THE COURT: I'm sorry?
MS. WEISS: I agree reluctantly.
THE COURT: Whether reluctantly or not, what I want to know is do you agree?
MS. WEISS: Yes, because I am sick of it and --
THE COURT: Well, the reasons aren't important. You agree. Okay. All right. And, Mr. Starnes, Ms. DeLorenzo, you guys agree?
MR. STARNES: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay, very good. All right. . . . Who's going to prepare the ...

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