United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY JUDGE.
the court are two motions filed by Defendant Steer Machine
Tool & Die Corporation in this case, which was closed in
October 2016. The first motion is to reopen the case. The
second motion is titled “Motion for Contempt, ”
however, it mainly involves enforcement of the settlement
agreement that the parties entered into in October 2016 after
a conference held before Magistrate Judge Karoline
Mehalchick. For the following reasons, we will deny the
motion to reopen and dismiss the motion for contempt.
case involves a trademark for a bottlestopper. (See
Doc. 11, Am. Compl.) Plaintiff SS Niles Bottlestoppers, LLC
manufactures bottlestoppers for use in bottles of wine, olive
oil, balsamic vinegar, bath oil, liquors and decorative herb
bottles. (Id. at 15). Plaintiff filed a
thirteen-count complaint against Defendant Steer Machine Tool
& Die Corp., alleging, inter alia, trademark
infringement. (Doc. 11, Am. Compl.).
20, 2016, the court referred the case to Magistrate Judge
Karoline Mehalchick for a settlement conference. (Doc. 16).
Judge Mehalchick held a settlement conference and reported to
the court that the case had settled. Then on July 26, 2016,
we issued an order of dismissal providing sixty (60) days in
which to consummate the settlement. (Doc. 23).
the docket is not precise, it appears that problems arose in
the settlement and the parties contacted Judge Mehalchick for
further assistance. She held a telephonic status conference
on the matter on August 31, 2016. (Doc. 25). The parties then
asked the court to extend the time for consummation of the
settlement, which the parties deemed “the deadline to
reinstate this case.” (Doc. 30). The court issued an
order on September 27, 2016, extending the deadline to
reinstate the case to October 3, 2016. (Doc. 32).
filed a notice of settlement of the case on October 4, 2016.
(Doc. 33). The case had previously been closed due to the
first notice from Magistrate Judge Mehalchick that the case
had settled in July 2016, and thus, it remained closed when
the court received this second notice of settlement.
more than a year later on November 20, 2017, the defendant
filed the instant motion to reopen the case and motion for
contempt. (Doc. 34 & Doc. 35). The defendant contends
that the plaintiff “has failed to comply with the
consent order and agreement entered by this court.”
(Doc. 36, ¶ 43). As discussed below, however, no consent
order and agreement was ever entered by the court in this
case - the parties entered into a settlement agreement
between themselves. (Doc. 46, Exh. A, “Confidential
Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release”). Hence,
relief will not be granted to the defendant.
this court had jurisdiction over this matter because several
of the causes of action were based on federal intellectual
property law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1338. We had supplemental jurisdiction over the state
law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. As set forth below,
however, we find that we no longer have jurisdiction.
noted above, defendant has filed a motion for contempt. The
basis for the contempt motion is the assertion that plaintiff
“has failed to comply with the consent order and
agreement entered by this court.” (Doc. 36, Pl.'s
Memo. at 13). In other words, defendant asks the court
to enforce the settlement agreement and find plaintiff in
contempt. (Id.) We do not have jurisdiction to
enforce the settlement agreement at issue. We only have
jurisdiction to enforce a settlement where “the
parties' obligation to comply with the terms of the
settlement agreement had been made part of the order of
dismissal - either by separate provision (such as a provision
‘retaining jurisdiction' over the settlement
agreement) or by incorporating the terms of the settlement
agreement in the order[.]” Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 381 (1994);
see also Shaffer v. GTE North, Inc., 284 F.3d 500,
503 (3d Cir. 2002) (indicating that providing the parties a
certain amount of time to consummate the settlement and
reinstate the case if settlement had not been consummated by
that date is not sufficient to indicate that the court
retained jurisdiction over the settlement agreement).
reasoning of the courts is that enforcement of a settlement
agreement is more than the continuation or renewal of a
dismissed suit, and requires its own basis of jurisdiction.
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 378. For example, in a case
such as this one, a federal question no longer exists after
the case is settled. If the parties attempt to enforce the
settlement agreement, the basis of the dispute has changed
from a federal trademark issue into a contract dispute. Such
a dispute would be governed by state law and would need an
independent basis of jurisdiction.
the order of dismissal reads as follows:
“ORDER OF DISMISSAL Upon
notice to the Court by the appointed settlement officer, it
is hereby ordered that this case is dismissed without costs.
The parties will have sixty days in which to consummate the
settlement.” (Doc. 23, Order dated July 26, 2016). The
parties' obligation to comply with the settlement
agreement is not incorporated into the dismissal order either
by a separate provision or ...