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C. Jeffery Evans v. Y's Fries

May 19, 2011

C. JEFFERY EVANS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
Y'S FRIES, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on defendant Y's Fries, Inc.'s ("defendant") motion for summary judgment. Defendant contends the instant action is barred by a Settlement Agreement and General Release plaintiff C. Jeffery Evans ("plaintiff") previously executed with defendant's primary shareholder, Marilyn Yawnick.*fn1 Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing this action is not encompassed within the release of claims contained in the settlement agreement.

For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND*fn2

On March 27, 2009, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Marilyn Yawnick ("Yawnick") in this court, Evans v. Yawnick, et al., Civ. Case No. 09-844 JAM/GGH ("Yawnick Action"). (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Stmt. of Undisputed Facts ["SUF"], filed April 29, 2011 [Docket #21-1], ¶ 1.) In that suit, plaintiff sought injunctive relief and damages for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), California Civil Code § 54 et seq. and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. (SUF ¶ 2.) On May 11, 2009, plaintiff and Yawnick reached a settlement, executing a Settlement Agreement and General Release (the "Agreement"). (SUF ¶ 3.)

The Agreement provided that the settlement was between plaintiff and Yawnick*fn3 "on behalf of herself, other affiliated partnerships, partners, companies, divisions, subsidiaries, insurers, and their officers, directors, employees, agents, attorneys, representatives, successors and assigns." (SUF ¶ 4.) In exchange for Yawnick's payment of $15,000.00, plaintiff agreed to the following:

(1) to "releas[e], acqui[t], and forever discharg[e] [Yawnick] and [her] respective parent companies, subsidiaries, lessors, successors, predecessors, assigns, affiliates, officers, directors, partners, personal and legal representatives, agents, employees, and attorneys (the "Released Parties"), and each of them, from any and all claims of any kind and nature, character known or unknown, disclosed or undisclosed, which PLAINTIFF may now have, may in the future have, or have ever had against any of the Released Parties, including, but not limited to, any and all claims, rights, demands, causes of action for violations of the [ADA] . . ., violations of any other federal, state, local, or public accommodations statutes, rules, regulations, common law, or ordinances of any kind [SUF¶ 5][;]"

(2) to waive all rights under California Civil Code § 1542,*fn4 stating plaintiff "understands and expressly agrees that [the] Agreement extends to any and all claims of every kind and nature whatsoever, known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, past or present, disclosed or undisclosed, which PLAINTIFF has or may have against [Yawnick] [SUF ¶ 6][;]" and

(3) to "refrain from initiating any further litigation against [Yawnick] [Id.]."

In a prior draft of the Agreement, which was written by plaintiff's counsel in the Yawnick Action, plaintiff agreed to refrain from initiating any further litigation against Yawnick, "solely in regard to the McDonald's Restaurant [which was the subject of the Yawnick Action] located at 1806 Fort Jones Road, Yreka, California;" the draft agreement provided that plaintiff was not precluded from "engaging in litigation against [Yawnick] as to any other potential claim arising from another location or matter." (SUF ¶ 7.) However, Yawnick's counsel negotiated with plaintiff to eliminate that provision; ultimately, as set forth above, plaintiff agreed to "refrain from initiating any further litigation against [Yawnick]." (SUF ¶ 8.)*fn5

On August 26, 2010, plaintiff filed the instant action against defendant Y's Fries, Inc., alleging claims for violation of the ADA, California's Civil Rights Acts and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. (SUF ¶ 9.) Yawnick is the primary shareholder of Y's Fries, Inc. (SUF ¶ 10.)

STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see California v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 780 (9th Cir. 1998).

The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, ...


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