is not contained in court's Order dismissing original action). In the present case, the court entered an Order approving the agreement on January 30, 1985. Therefore, this court appears to have subject matter jurisdiction.
The United States, however, has raised the issue of the applicability of 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2). In pertinent part, this section provides, "the district courts shall not have jurisdiction of any civil action or claim against the United States founded upon any express or implied contract with the United States . . ." Id. The United States Claims Court has jurisdiction over claims founded upon express or implied contract with the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1491(a)(1). Thus, this court must resolve the apparent conflict between a court's power to enforce its settlement agreement and the language of § 1346(a)(2).
The United States, however, has raised the issue of the applicability of 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2). In pertinent part, this section provides, "the district courts shall not have jurisdiction of any civil action or claim against the United States founded upon any express or implied contract with the United States. . . ." Id. The United States Claims Court has jurisdiction over claims founded upon express or implied contract with the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1491(a)(1). Thus, this court must resolve the apparent conflict between a court's power to enforce its settlement agreement and the language of § 1346(a)(2).
The authority of a court to enforce a settlement agreement has as its foundation a policy favoring amicable adjustment of disputes and avoidance of costly and time consuming litigation. See Rosso v. Foodsales, Inc., 500 F. Supp. 274 (E.D.Pa. 1980). It would be anomalous for this court to relinquish jurisdiction at this stage of litigation. While the Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over express or implied contract actions involving greater than $10,000.00, see Amalgamated Sugar Co. v. Bergland, supra, plaintiffs are correct in pointing out that Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) is intended to provide relief from a judgment by motion in the court which rendered the judgment. The court deems that the instant dispute is ancillary to the original action and is properly within this court's subject matter jurisdiction. See United States v. Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., 571 F.2d 1283 (4th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 875, 58 L. Ed. 2d 189, 99 S. Ct. 212 (1978) (district court enforced oral settlement purportedly reached between shipyard and the Navy; court of appeals found that a binding settlement was not reached).
In reaching this decision, the court recognizes that "the Court of Claims' jurisdiction to review Federal Tort Claims Act decisions by consent of the parties has not been extended to the Claims Court." 17 C. Wright & A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 4101 at 49 (Supp. 1985). Aside from the question of whether this action is based on implied or express contract, the parties are really seeking to enforce or vacate an agreement reflected in a court Order that arose from a case instituted pursuant to the FTCA. Cf. Tennessee ex rel. Leech v. Dole, 749 F.2d 331 (6th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 472 U.S. 1018, 105 S. Ct. 3480, 87 L. Ed. 2d 615 (1985) (Court of Claims does not have exclusive jurisdiction over a suit merely because it raises contract related issues; suit clearly not grounded in contract not subject to exclusive Court of Claims jurisdiction). Accordingly, jurisdiction over this proceeding is proper. See Aro Corp. v. Allied Witan Co., 531 F.2d 1368 (6th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 862, 50 L. Ed. 2d 140, 97 S. Ct. 165 (1976) (even if court's original jurisdiction was questionable, court has jurisdiction over settlement agreement).
The next inquiry is whether federal or state law is to be applied in analyzing the validity and effect of the settlement agreement. It is established that the law of the state where the act or omission occurred governs the substantive rights of the parties under the FTCA. 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). Plaintiffs contend that Pennsylvania law governs the validity of the settlement agreement entered into in this case.
In support of their position, plaintiffs distinguish those cases cited by defendant and assert that this agreement is governed by Pennsylvania law because Pennsylvania law provided the substantive rules for the underlying claim. Generally, the construction and enforcement of settlement agreements are governed by principles of local law applicable to contracts generally. See e.g., Strickland v. Marathon Oil Co., 446 F. Supp. 638 (E.D. La. 1978). Cf. Fox v. Consolidated Rail Corp. supra (substantive aspects of Federal Employer's Liability Act case governed by federal law; interpretation of settlement agreement terminating previous FELA suits is a question of federal law). Plaintiffs, however, cite no support for the proposition that state law controls in the situation sub judice. The court may have been inclined to agree with plaintiffs' position were this a mere matter of contract interpretation. Contra Homestake-Sapin Partners v. United States, 375 F.2d 507 (10th Cir. 1967) (issue resolved by interpretation of settlement agreements executed by, inter alia, the United States; apparent application of federal law in determining intent of parties).
The issue in this case, however, is the effect of an agreement negotiated by O'Hare without the authority to do so. The agreement itself is clear. In fact, this court sought to ensure that the agreement could not be misinterpreted. See Transcript of Court Proceedings attached to Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement. Therefore, this case involves a determination of the extent to which a federal Assistant U.S. Attorney can bind the federal government. Accordingly, resolution of the issue is a matter of federal concern that requires uniformity of result. See Clearfield Trust Co. v. United States, 318 U.S. 363, 87 L. Ed. 838, 63 S. Ct. 573 (1943).
A similar result was reached in Gamewell Manufacturing Inc. v. HVAC Supply, Inc., 715 F.2d 112 (4th Cir. 1983). In Gamewell, the court, in construing a settlement agreement in a patent infringement case stated:
Settlements and releases assertedly entered into in respect of federal litigation already in progress implicate federal procedural interests distinct from the underlying substantive interests of the parties. Once a claim -- whatever its jurisdictional basis -- is initiated in the federal courts, we believe that the standards by which that litigation may be settled, and hence resolved short of adjudication on the merits, are preeminently a matter for resolution by federal common law principles; independently derived.