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ALSTON v. STONE

United States District Court, S.D. New York


June 23, 2005.

NORMAN ALSTON, PEMBROOKE CALOX, INC., AND PEMBROOKE HOLDINGS, Plaintiffs,
v.
ANNE STONE, RICHARD G. KLEIN, Esq., HOFHEIMER, GARTLIR AND GROSS, JOHN DOES 1-10, Individually, Jointly, Severally and in the Alternative, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT PATTERSON, Senior District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

On March 24, 2005, the Clerk of the Court entered Judgment for Defendants based on this Court's decision dated March 21, 2005, granting Defendants' motion, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the Reamended Complaint of Norman Alston, Pembrooke Calox Inc. and Pembrooke Holdings. On March 28, 2005, the Clerk of the Court advised Plaintiffs of their right to appeal this Court's decision within 30 days of the filing of the Judgment.

On May 24, 2005, upon receipt of a Certificate of Mailing on May 17, 2005, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement together with exhibits "pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)." The motion asserts that the attorneys for the parties had reached an agreement on December 8, 2004 to settle Plaintiffs' claims, including fraud, RICO and attorney malpractice claims, for $30,000, upon the approval of the bankruptcy judge and the receipt of releases from Plaintiffs and the trustee in bankruptcy.*fn1 Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement is denied because it is not properly brought before this Court, as this Court does not have inherent power to enforce the terms of any settlement agreement between the parties. Kokkenen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994).

  This action was dismissed on March 21, 2005, and Judgment was entered on March 24, 2005. No notice of appeal was filed. Judgment became final on April 23, 2005. Plaintiffs seek to bring this motion pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but do not seek to persuade the Court that its decision of March 21, 2005 was entered by mistake, inadvertent error, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud or "any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the Judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Instead, Plaintiffs solely seek to enforce an alleged settlement reached between the parties for a fraction of the damages claimed in their Reamended Complaint. Accordingly, this motion is not properly brought pursuant to Rule 60(b).

  In Kokkenen, the Supreme Court held that a district court, which had dismissed a case in view of a settlement reached by the parties, had no inherent power to enforce the terms of that agreement absent a stipulation and order of dismissal reserving jurisdiction in the district court to enforce the settlement agreement. 511 U.S. at 380-82. In this case, no stipulation and order of dismissal reserving jurisdiction has been so ordered by the Court, nor was a stipulation of any sort ever submitted to the Court. Indeed, prior to the filing of Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement, the Court was never apprised of any settlement, or even negotiations, between the parties. Accordingly, there are no grounds for the Court to exercise jurisdiction as Plaintiffs request. Judgment was final on April 23, 2005, and unless there is some independent basis for federal jurisdiction, an action for enforcement of any settlement agreement between the parties must be initiated in the state courts. Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement is denied for lack of jurisdiction.

  IT IS SO ORDERED.


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