The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge United States District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania
: (Magistrate Judge Arbuckle) et al.,
Presently pending before the Court is Magistrate Judge Arbuckle's Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 87), addressing Plaintiffs' motion for hearing to effect settlement (Doc. No. 73). For the reasons stated more fully herein, the Court must decline to adopt the Report and Recommendation and will deny Plaintiffs' motion.
Plaintiffs Kathy Lehman and William Lehman initiated this litigation by filing a complaint, sounding in negligence, against Defendants Diamond Development Company, Inc. and Vincent Guarna on January 26, 2010. (Doc. No. 1.) On March 19, 2012, the date on which jury trial was to commence, counsel for both parties informed the Court that they had reached a settlement and submitted a document marked as a joint exhibit, stating as follows:
To resolve the case of Kathy and William Lehman versus Vincent Guarna and Diamond Development, Defendants agree to a judgment lien in the amount of $25,000 against them in favor of Kathy and William Lehman, to which they will stipulate on the record before Judge Kane, Monday, March 19, 2012. Defendants, Vincent Guarna and Diamond Development will also assign any rights they may have under the Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company policy owned by Community Services Group. Further it is agreed to satisfy the judgment lien, a certified check in the amount of $25,000 payable to Kathy and William Lehman and Schmidt Kramer, PC, will be delivered to the offices of Schmidt Kramer PC, in Harrisburg, PA, by 5:00 p.m., on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Should the check not be received by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Vincent Guarna and Diamond Development consent to a judgment lien being placed on the personal residence of Vincent Guarna, if any, and/or any property owned by Diamond Development and attorneys' fees and costs for executing the judgment will be paid by the Defendants, Vincent Guarna and Diamond Development. (Doc. No. 70.) After defense counsel described the terms of the settlement agreement on the record, the Court engaged Ms. Lehman and her counsel, David Joseph Chapman, in the following exchange:
THE COURT: I note that your client is here.
MR. CHAPMAN: They are, correct.
THE COURT: And everyone is fully informed and in agreement? MRS. LEHMAN: Yes.
MR. CHAPMAN: They are. Thank you, Your Honor. (Doc. No. 81 at 3-4.)
Following the hearing, the Court issued a dismissal order, stating: "[C]counsel having reported to the Court that the above action has been settled, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this action is dismissed without costs and without prejudice, upon good cause shown within sixty (60) days, to reinstate the action if the settlement is not consummated." (Doc. No. 71.) Because Defendants later refused to sign a release tendered by the Philadelphia
Indemnity InsuranceCompany ("PIIC") and an assignment-of-rights agreement drafted by Plaintiffs' counsel, Plaintiff filed a motion for hearing ...