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James Bryant, An Individual v. Amtrak

January 26, 2011

JAMES BRYANT, AN INDIVIDUAL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMTRAK, A BUSINESS FORM UNKNOWN; AND DOES 1 THROUGH 50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayes, Judge:

ORDER

The matter before the Court is the Motion to Enforce Settlement and Dismiss Entire Action with Prejudice, filed by Defendant Amtrak. (ECF NO. 85).

I. Background

On August 3, 2010, Plaintiff filed the Second Amended Complaint, which is the operative pleading in this action. (ECF No. 72). The Second Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff's wallet and other personal property were stolen while Plaintiff was a passenger on a train operated by Defendant. The Second Amended Complaint asserts a single cause of action for negligence.

On September 1, 2010, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, accompanied by affidavits and exhibits. (ECF No. 75).

On September 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment, accompanied by two affidavits. (ECF No. 77).

On September 27, 2010, Defendant filed a reply, accompanied by evidentiary objections to Plaintiff's affidavits. (ECF No. 78).

On October 29, 2010, the parties appeared for a hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment and informed the Court that, during a settlement conference before the Magistrate Judge earlier that day, this case had settled and a joint motion to dismiss was forthcoming. (ECF No. 81).

On October 29, 2010, the Magistrate Judge issued an Order confirming that during the October 29, 2010 settlement conference, the parties settled the case. (ECF No. 82).

On December 7, 2010, this Court issued an Order requiring the parties to file a status report regarding the resolution of this case. (ECF No. 84).

On December 14, 2010, Defendant filed the Motion to Enforce Settlement and Dismiss Entire Action with Prejudice. (ECF NO. 85). Defendant contends:

The existence of a complete settlement is clear and unambiguous. Mr. Bryant and Amtrak reached an agreement to settle this lawsuit during the court-ordered mandatory settlement conference on October 29, 2010 (the 'MSC'). The essential terms of the settlement were memorialized at the MSC in a confidential 'Memorandum of Settlement' that was signed by Mr. Bryant, Amtrak's corporate representative, and counsel for the parties. Although Amtrak is prepared to perform its obligations under the agreement and to finalize the settlement, Mr. Bryant has been uncooperative in effectuating the terms of the settlement. Mr. Bryant cannot avoid the deal that he agreed to simply because he may have some regrets or a complete change of heart. (ECF No. 85-1 at 2). Defendant asserts that it "is prepared to finalize the settlement and to satisfy its obligations under the agreement." Id. at 7. Defendant "requests that this Court confirm that there is a binding settlement agreement between the parties and that the Court dismiss this action with prejudice." Id.

In support of the motion, Defendant submits a declaration from its attorney, who was present at the October 29, 2010 settlement conference before the Magistrate Judge. The declaration states:

Mr. Bryant, Mr. Bryant's lawyer (Mark-Robert Bluemel), Amtrak's corporate representative and I attended the entire [settlement conference]. Mr. Bryant and Amtrak reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit during the [settlement conference]. The agreement was memorialized in a confidential 'Memorandum of Settlement' that was signed by Mr. Bryant, Mr. Bluemel, Amtrak's corporate representative and me during the [settlement conference]. Magistrate Judge Brooks officiated during the entire settlement process, including the signing of the Memorandum of Settlement. The Memorandum of Settlement lists the material terms upon which the parties agreed to settle this case. Among other things, the confidential Memorandum of Settlement provided that a long form agreement would be prepared and that a certain sum of money would be paid directly to Mr. Bryant. (Deacon Decl. ΒΆ 3, ECF No. 85-2). Defendant submits a second declaration from another attorney, which states that on November 11, 2010, she "e-mailed a long form settlement agreement and stipulation of dismissal" to Plaintiff's attorney, and on December 1, 2010, Plaintiff's attorney told her "that his client would not agree to ...


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