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Lewis v. Watson

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

May 17, 2019

JERRY LEE LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN CAMERON WATSON, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ERIC I. LONG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on Defendant's motion to enforce settlement agreement.

         At the Parties' request, United States District Judge Colin S. Bruce referred this case to the undersigned in order to conduct a settlement conference. On January 17, 2019, the undersigned conducted a settlement conference. At the conclusion of that conference, the Parties confirmed-on the record-that they had reached a settlement in this case. Accordingly, the Court gave the Parties thirty-five (35) days within which to file a stipulation of dismissal based upon the settlement agreement that the Parties had reached.

         However, this thirty-five-day time period expired without the Parties filing a stipulation of dismissal as ordered by the Court. Therefore, on March 11, 2019, the Court ordered defense counsel either to file a stipulation or to file a status report indicating why a stipulation could not be submitted. In the interim, Plaintiff filed several motions, all of which the Court denied in light of the purported settlement agreement reached during the settlement conference. When defense counsel still had not filed a stipulation or a status report on the settlement, the Court again ordered defense counsel on May 9, 2019, to file a stipulation to dismiss or to file a status report with the Court.

         On May 10, 2019, defense counsel finally complied. In his response, defense counsel represented that Plaintiff was refusing to sign the settlement agreement and the stipulation to dismiss for various reasons. Accordingly, Defendant asked the Court to enforce the settlement agreement that the Parties reached on January 17, 2019. Plaintiff filed a response to Defendant's motion to enforce the settlement agreement that has nothing to do with the settlement agreement and does not address why the Court should or should not enforce the settlement agreement reached by the Parties.

         The Court finds that this case has been settled by the Parties and will dismiss it as such. Oral settlement agreements are enforceable under federal law provided that all contract formalities have established. Taylor v. Gordon Flesch Co., Inc., 793 F.2d 858, 862 (7th Cir. 1986). More specifically, “Illinois law governs the enforceability of the settlement agreement.” Montgomery v. Village of Posen, 711 Fed.Appx. 343, 345 (7th Cir. 2018)(citing Lewis v. Sch. Dist. No. 70, 648 F.3d 484, 486 n.1 (7th Cir. 2011)). In order to enforce an oral settlement agreement, three elements must be shown: (1) an offer was made by one party, (2) accepted by the other, and (3) consideration was exchanged. Centurylink v. BBC Elec. Servs., Inc., 2013 WL 5461097, * 1 (N.D. Ind. Sept. 26, 2013); Hyde Park Union Church v. Curry, 942 F.Supp. 360, 363 (N.D. Ill. 1996). The parties must knowingly and voluntarily enter into the agreement either personally or by providing their attorneys with authority to settle. Hartman v. Hook-Superx Inc., 42 F.Supp.2d 854, 855 (S.D. Ind. 1999).

         Furthermore,

A settlement agreement need not be in writing, so long as there was an offer and acceptance and there is a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the agreement. Quinlan v. Stouffe, 355 Ill.App.3d 830, 837, 291 Ill.Dec. 305, 823 N.E.2d 597 (2005). Like any other contract, the essential terms of the settlement agreement must be definite and certain for it to be enforceable. Quinlan, 355 Ill.App.3d at 837-38, 291 Ill.Dec. 305, 823 N.E.2d 597. An evidentiary hearing regarding the formation and terms of a settlement agreement may be appropriate when there is a disputed issue on that point and additional evidence or testimony is required to satisfactorily resolve the issue. Pritchett, 332 Ill.App.3d at 899, 266 Ill.Dec. 207, 773 N.E.2d 1277; Janssen Brothers, Inc., 12 Ill.App.3d at 843, 299 N.E.2d 431.

City of Chicago v. Ramirez, 366 Ill.App.3d 935, 946, 852 N.E.2d 312, 324 (Ill. Ct. App. 2006).

         Here, all of the elements necessary for the Court to find that the Parties reached a settlement and to enforce that agreement are present. Defendant made an offer to settle the case. Plaintiff accepted that offer. Consideration was present as part of the offer and acceptance. Nothing more is necessary.

         Notably, Plaintiff confirmed his understanding of the agreement and expressed his desire to be bound by the terms of the settlement at the conclusion of the settlement conference. See Tape #UR-B, January 17, 2019, 12:22 p.m. Plaintiff cannot now change his mind or seek to include other terms and conditions to the settlement agreement that was not part of the agreement reached by the Parties in January 2019.

         IT IS, THEREFORE, RECOMMENDED:

1. That the Court grant Defendant's motion to enforce settlement [79].
2. That this case be dismissed with prejudice and that all pending motions be ...

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