United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MARIA VALDEZ, United States Magistrate Judge
se Plaintiff Clarence Montgomery brought this complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to redress Defendants'
alleged violation of his Fourth Amendment rights related to a
warrantless search of Montgomery's leased property. On
the morning of trial, the parties reached a settlement
agreement, and the jury trial was stricken. Plaintiff
subsequently filed the present motion to withdraw from the
settlement agreement [Doc. No. 100]. For the reasons that
follow, Plaintiff's motion is denied.
complaint alleges that Defendant Village of Posen's
President, Chief of Police, and building inspector, among
others, unconstitutionally authorized and/or conducted a
search of his rented business property and ultimately issued
a number of code violation tickets. See Montgomery v.
Village of Posen, No. 14 C 3864, 2015 WL 6445456, at
*1-2 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 23, 2015) (denying Defendants'
motion for summary judgment). Defendants do not deny that a
search took place but contend they had the authority to do so
because Montgomery's landlord consented to the search.
Id. at *2.
parties consented to the jurisdiction of the United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) on April
30, 2015. At a status hearing shortly after the reassignment,
Defendants indicated their intent to file a motion for
summary judgment. That motion was denied on October 23, 2015.
Montgomery, 2015 WL 6445456, at *3. Shortly
thereafter, the matter was set for a settlement conference,
which took place on March 3, 2016. No settlement was reached
that day, and a further status was set to schedule a trial
date. (3/3/16 Minute Order [Doc. No. 77].) The jury trial was
then set for June 27, 2016. (3/17/17 Minute Order [Doc. No.
instruction conference was held on Thursday, June 23, 2016,
four days before the trial was to begin. During that
conference, the Court took a break to allow the parties to
discuss settlement options. (See 3/2/17 Hr'g Tr.
[hereinafter “Tr.”] at 8:25-11:1, 33:6-34:1 [Doc.
No. 125].) Those discussions were not fruitful, and the
parties appeared for trial on June 27, 2016.
after the case was called, and before the jury venire was
brought in, the Court inquired whether the parties had
explored all settlement options. (Tr. at 12:16-13:1,
34:8-18.) Both sides ultimately agreed to meet with the Court
in chambers to revisit the possibility of settlement. (Tr. at
35:19-23, 35:12-17.) The settlement conference lasted a
couple of hours, and each side came into chambers to speak to
the Court several times. (Tr. at 35:19-22.) Those conferences
resulted in a settlement agreement, and the parties signed a
Settlement Checklist/Term Sheet, the terms of which were
written by the Court to reflect the parties' agreement.
(Defs.' Resp., Ex. A.) The checklist provided that
Defendants were to pay Plaintiff a total of $10, 000 and move
to dismiss with prejudice all administrative tickets issued
to Plaintiff as a result of the search of his property on May
15, 2014. (Ex. A at 1-2.) In exchange, Plaintiff agreed to
dismiss his lawsuit with prejudice. (Id. at 3.)
Under the section captioned Effective Date, the checklist
stated that there would be “A binding agreement
today.” (Id.) The other Effective Date option
- “No binding agreement until the typed settlement
agreement is signed” - specifies that it applies only
“in instances where parties need to obtain further
approval given the structure of the company or municipality .
. .” (Id.)
the parties signed the agreement, they appeared in court to
put the settlement on the record. (See Tr. at
14:12-15:19, 18:21-19:12, 39:14-40:1; Defs.' Resp., Ex.
B.) The following colloquy occurred:
THE COURT: Good morning to you both. The Court has just
concluded a settlement conference, and based on what the
parties have stated to the Court a settlement has been
reached. Is that, in fact, correct, Mr. Montgomery?
THE PLAINTIFF: That is correct.
THE COURT: And is that correct, Mr. Niemeyer?
MR. NIEMEYER: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. The specific terms of the settlement
The Court has provided Mr. Niemeyer with a settlement
checklist that he needs to work out with Mr. Montgomery. At
the end of the settlement checklist is a space for
signatures. I need a signature of Mr. Montgomery and Mr.
Niemeyer on behalf of the defense.
Mr. Montgomery, I want to make sure you understand that
during the course of the settlement conference that we had,
you were completely free to say yes or no, depending on what