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Maloy v. Littman Jewelers

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 23, 2019

SHARON MALOY
v.
LITTMAN JEWELERS

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THOMAS J. RUETER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Presently before the court is defendant's Motion to Enforce Settlement (Doc. 19) (“Motion”). The Motion was referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno for a Report and Recommendation. The court held an evidentiary hearing on July 12, 2019.

         Upon consideration of the Motion, plaintiff's Response in Opposition (Doc. 20), and defendant's reply in support of the Motion (Doc. 25), and for the reasons stated below, the court recommends that defendant's Motion be GRANTED.

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. On December 19, 2018, the undersigned conducted a settlement conference in the above-referenced case. Plaintiff attended the settlement conference and was represented by counsel, Jonathan W. Chase (hereinafter “counsel” or “plaintiff's counsel”). Defendant was represented at the conference by Marc Esterow (“defense counsel”). Plaintiff's initial demand was $75, 000. The parties were unable to come to a settlement at the conclusion of the conference; plaintiff's final demand was $50, 000, and defendant's final offer was $30, 000.

         2. Plaintiff's deposition was taken by defense counsel on March 19, 2019.

         3. On March 25, 2019, defense counsel conveyed to plaintiff's counsel by email a settlement offer of $40, 000.

         4. Following receipt of defendant's offer, counsel reached out to plaintiff and after a “lengthy discussion, ” plaintiff authorized counsel to demand $50, 000. (N.T. 7/12/19, at 47.) Plaintiff's counsel replied to defense counsel's email on March 25, 2019, stating “I am authorized to respond with a demand of $50, 000.” (D-1 at 6.)

         5. On March 26, 2019, defense counsel responded that defendant had accepted the demand, and set forth a number of additional terms, such as confidentiality, no rehire, and non-disparagement, among others. (D-1 at 5.) Plaintiff's counsel replied, confirming that the matter was settled. Id. at 4.[1]

         6. On March 28, 2019, plaintiff emailed counsel, stating she had “thought about” what she was told regarding her case, and stated, “I do not wish to settle for $50, 000.” (D-6 at 1.) Counsel responded to plaintiff on April 2, 2019, stating that she had authorized him to convey the settlement demand to defendant, and that he “strongly advise[d] against backing out from the settlement.” Id. Plaintiff replied, “[w]hen I spoke with you last week you told me that you were going to tell Littman that my previous minimum was $50, 000. You did not tell me this was final. I assumed you were negotiating on my behalf. I did not agree to settle for $50, 000.” Id. at 2.

         7. On March 31, 2019, April 10, 2019, and April 16, 2019, defense counsel emailed plaintiff's counsel but did not receive an immediate response. (D-1 at 2-4.)

         8. On April 17, 2019, plaintiff's counsel responded, indicating that plaintiff was “showing signs of cold feet and trending towards rescinding her acceptance of the settlement amount.” (D-1 at 1.)

         9. Counsel emailed plaintiff on April 26, 2019, in advance of a telephone conference scheduled the same day with the Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno. Counsel restated his understanding of the circumstances: “[When we spoke] I suggested that we should restate our most recent demand of $50, 000 . . . . You agreed that I could proceed in that manner . . . . However, shortly thereafter, you stated that you no longer wished to settle[] for $50, 000.” (D-7 at 1.) Plaintiff did not challenge this recitation of events, replying instead with “some issues concerning damages in my case that have not been resolved.” Id. at 2.

         10. On April 26, 2019, during the telephone conference with Judge Robreno, “[p]laintiff's counsel indicated that he was continuing to work with plaintiff to move forward with the settlement agreement, and he did not dispute that he had ...


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