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MARKS-FOREMAN v. REPORTER PUBL. CO.

July 10, 1998

LORENE MARKS-FOREMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
REPORTER PUBLISHING COMPANY; STATE COMPENSATION INSURANCE FUND; EUCCE AND ASSOCIATES; JAMES BUZAN; AND BEATRICE HINES, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BREWSTER

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

 I. Introduction

 A. Background

 Lorene Marks-Foreman ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The First Amended Complaint ("FAC") *fn1" alleged that State Compensation Insurance Fund ("SCIF") and Reporter Publishing Company ("RPC") violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by refusing workers' compensation payments to her for injuries sustained in an attack by an unknown assailant during the course of Plaintiff's employment as a reporter with RPC. The FAC also alleged that Defendant Beatrice Hines ("Hines"), an employee of SCIF, violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights by employing "bullying tactics" while questioning her about her claim. SCIF is a public enterprise fund established by the State of California for the purpose of transacting workers' compensation insurance. See CAL. INS. CODE § 11773. Plaintiff further alleged that the investigative techniques used by Eucce and Associates ("Eucce") and James Buzan ("Buzan"), working under a contract with SCIF, violated her constitutional rights. Defendant Eucce is a private company that employs Defendant Buzan as a private investigator. In addition, the FAC contained supplemental state law claims against Eucce and Buzan for trespass and infliction of emotional distress. The FAC did not contain any claims relating to Plaintiff's on-the-job injuries. Federal jurisdiction was predicated solely on Defendants' alleged unconstitutional conduct with regard to Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim.

 On November 21, 1997, Plaintiff met with all Defendants before Magistrate Judge Brooks at the Early Neutral Evaluation Conference ("ENE") conducted pursuant to this Court's Local Rules. A Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") was placed on the record at this conference. The terms of the Agreement were recited on the record, and the transcript of the hearing demonstrates that the Defendants' counsel and the Plaintiff explicitly agreed to these terms. The Agreement provided that Plaintiff would dismiss her complaint against Hines, SCIF, Buzan, and Eucce in exchange for (1) $ 1,500; (2) an apology from Hines; (3) an agreement that Hines would no longer work on Plaintiff's workers' compensation claims; and (4) a declaration from Buzan and Eucce to assure Plaintiff that no further surveillance would be conducted.

 On or about December 16, 1997, Defendant's attorney received a copy of an "Addendum to Settlement Agreement" ("Addendum") drafted by Plaintiff. In this document, Plaintiff stated that at the time of the ENE, her understanding and intent was not to dismiss SCIF from the complaint and that she understood that SCIF would remain a defendant in the case. Plaintiff again expressed that she did not intend to dismiss SCIF from the action on December 22, 1997, at the Settlement Disposition Conference before Magistrate Judge Brooks.

 On March 10, 1998, Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for an order to enforce the Agreement, including her Addendum. On March 31, 1998, Plaintiff filed an ex parte application for the Court to set aside its dismissal order and to enforce the Agreement. Upon due consideration of the moving and responding papers and for the reasons given below, the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiff's motion and ex parte application.

 B. Factual Findings

 The following individuals appeared at the ENE: Anton C. Gershler, Esq., attorney for Eucce and Buzan; Betty Quarles, Esq. ("Quarles"), attorney for Hines and SCIF; Margaret Quarterman ("Quarterman"), the risk manager for SCIF; Jerry Eucce; James Buzan; Lorene Marks-Foreman; and Robert R. Blasi, a friend of Plaintiff.

 The transcript of the ENE before the Magistrate Judge on November 21, 1997, recorded the original settlement agreement as pertained to SCIF:

 
MS. QUARLES: . . . In consideration for the sum of $ 1,500 and an apology from Beatrice Heinz [sic] for any conduct which was taken to offend Ms. Foreman, Ms. Foreman agrees to dismiss the complaint and the first amended complaint against State Compensation Insurance Fund and Defendant Beatrice Heinz [sic].

 (emphasis added).

 When questioned about the terms of the agreement, Plaintiff stated that she accepted the terms:

 
THE COURT: Ms. Marks-Foreman, have you heard the terms that were stated so far by the ...

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