discrimination. Thus, this case is distinguishable from
situations where an employee is terminated and may not realize at
that time that she had a claim against her employer in connection
with allegedly unlawful treatment.
Fifth, plaintiff was represented by an attorney appointed by
the union when she signed the release. In fact, as noted above,
the release itself provides that Laramee "acknowledges and agrees
that she has been fairly represented by the Union." (Agreement at
¶ 8). As stated above, the release is written in plain English
and Laramee cannot avoid its consequences by claiming that she
did not understand its terms when she acknowledged that she had a
"full understanding of its terms." (Id.). Similarly, although
plaintiff alleges that she was dissatisfied her attorney, she
acknowledged in the release that she was fairly represented and
she has withdrawn her claim against the union for a breach of the
duty of fair representation.
Sixth, plaintiff received greater compensation than she would
have been entitled to had she not signed the release. See, e.g.,
Dewey, 1995 WL 542447, at *2; Skluth, 163 A.D.2d at 105, 559
N YS.2d at 281. By signing the stipulation of settlement and
release, Laramee was given 20 weeks of severance pay and one year
of health coverage. Assuming as true, for the purpose of this
motion, that Laramee would have received the severance pay "in
any case had she been laid off," (see Complaint at ¶ 27), this
factor still supports the validity of the release. First, Laramee
herself has alleged that she resigned and has nowhere alleged
that she would have received 20 weeks of severance had she simply
resigned without signing the release. Thus, what she would have
received had she been laid off is irrelevant. Second, Laramee
does not allege that she would have been entitled to one year of
health care coverage had she resigned without signing the
release. Consequently, it is undisputed that Laramee did receive
additional compensation in excess of that to which she would have
been entitled as a result of signing the release. Finally,
Laramee's allegations that she did not, in fact, receive the full
amount of severance to which she was entitled pursuant to the
Agreement - allegations which are denied by JGB - are immaterial
to this Court's determination of whether Laramee entered into the
release "knowingly and voluntarily." If, as Laramee claims, JGB
has not complied with the terms of the Agreement, her remedy
would lie in an action alleging breach of the Agreement, not in
bringing this action.
Finally, as set forth above, Laramee was, in fact, represented
by an attorney when she signed the release so the seventh and
eighth Bormann factors - whether Laramee was encouraged to seek
counsel and whether she had a fair opportunity to do so - are
answered in the affirmative.
In sum, the only factors which arguably weigh in plaintiff's
favor or on which there are issues of fact are Laramee's
education and business experience and her alleged inability to
negotiate the terms of the Agreement. However, the impact, if
any, of these factors is outweighed by the other factors -
namely, that Laramee was represented by an attorney when she
signed the Agreement, that Laramee was given ample time to review
the Agreement before agreeing to sign it, and the fact that the
Agreement itself is written in clear, concise English.
Consequently, this Court determines that Laramee did enter into
the Agreement "knowingly and voluntarily" and thereby waived any
claims that she had against JGB regarding the conditions or
termination of her employment.
II. Motion for Sanctions
JGB has also moved pursuant to Fed. R.Civ.P. 11 for sanctions
against Laramee and her attorney pursuant to (i) Fed. R.Civ.P.
11(b)(1) for filing a complaint solely to harass JGB and
needlessly increase the cost of litigation and (ii) Fed. R.Civ.P.
11(b)(2) for filing a legally meritless
claim that plaintiff is precluded from pursuing as a matter of
The decision of whether to award sanctions pursuant to Rule 11
is subject to the court's discretion. See Simon DeBartolo Group,
L.P. v. Richard E. Jacobs Group, Inc., 186 F.3d 157, 166 (2d
Cir. 1999); Moss v. Moss Tubes, Inc., No. 96-CV-1407, 1998 WL
641362, at *7 (Sept. 9, 1998) (citing Sanko Steamship Co., Ltd.
v. Galin, 835 F.2d 51, 53 (2d Cir. 1987)). This Court finds that
Laramee's complaint was not frivolous and that it was not clear
under existing legal precedent that it had no chance of success
or that it was filed solely for the purpose of harassment.
Accordingly, JGB's motion for Rule 11 sanctions is denied.
For the foregoing reasons, (i) defendant's motion pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is granted, and the Complaint is dismissed
with prejudice, and (ii) defendant's motion for sanctions
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 is denied.