The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. CURTIS JOYNER
Today we resolve Defendants' Emergency Motion to Declare Purported Settlement Null and Void and for other Ancillary Relief. This motion for injunctive relief is opposed by Plaintiff and accordingly, an emergency hearing was held by this Court on May 23, 1995. Following are Findings of Fact, a discussion, and Conclusions of Law.
1. Plaintiff, Maia Caplan, has brought a lawsuit against her former employer Fellheimer Eichen Braverman & Kaskey (the Firm) and the principal shareholder and managing partner of the Firm, David Braverman. Caplan's Amended Complaint alleges that Braverman and other members of the Firm created a hostile environment for women at the Firm and sexually harassed Caplan's female secretary. Caplan alleges that she was fired in retaliation for her protests against these actions.
2. Caplan's Amended Complaint asserts causes of action against both Braverman and the Firm for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e -- 2000e-17 (1994), as well as negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference with existing and prospective contracts, libel, and defamation.
3. Both Defendants asserted counterclaims against Caplan for malicious abuse of process and civil conspiracy to maliciously abuse process. These counterclaims were dismissed by this Court for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The tort of malicious prosecution was discussed in both the briefs and this Court's memorandum, but this Court held that such a claim was untimely because the action had not terminated in Defendants' favor.
4. On February 9, 1995, Defendants' insurance carrier, the Vigilant Insurance Company, agreed to provide Defendants with a defense for this lawsuit under a complete reservation of rights. The duty to defend was triggered by the defamation claim in the Amended Complaint.
Settlement Negotiations between Plaintiff and Defendants
6. In May, the settlement negotiations neared completion. On May 9, 1995, at 8:09 a.m., Plaintiff's attorney faxed a letter to Defendants' attorney indicating that Plaintiff had accepted certain retraction language proposed by Defendants the day before. This agreement was subject to certain conditions.
7. On May 10, 1995, Plaintiff's attorney faxed a letter to Defendants' attorney indicating that Plaintiff did not accept new language added by Defendants to the agreed-upon retraction.
8. On May 17, 1995, after more settlement discussions, Plaintiff's attorney faxed Defendants' attorney a letter confirming that no settlement had been reached between the parties, and that all Plaintiff's outstanding settlement offers had been withdrawn. This letter also indicates that Plaintiff had decided not to sign a public retraction, although she would be willing to settle without such a retraction.
Vigilant's Settlement Negotiations
9. Simultaneously with the settlement negotiations between Plaintiff and Defendants, Defendants were negotiating with their insurance carrier, Vigilant, for a full Settlement Agreement and Release of Insurance Agreement in exchange for $ 190,000.00.
10. On May 10, 1995, Vigilant forwarded a copy of a Settlement Agreement and Release of Insurance Agreement to Defendants for their signatures. Defendants did not accept this agreement, but proposed additional language.
11. On May 15, 1995, Vigilant agreed to the addition, and requested Defendants to forward a draft of that language for inclusion into the agreement. There is no indication that ...