The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge
This matter was settled in open court on Tuesday, July 24, 2007. It brought to an end a litigation struggle that went on for seven long years. Demonstrating anew that "things are seldom what they seem," the parties have now filed a flurry of motions to reconfirm the settlement; to promptly pay attorney's fees; to fire Plaintiff's counsel; and to reopen the settlement, which was purportedly unauthorized. The motions are denied. The case will not be reopened, and the settlement agreement will be enforced.
Procedural Background and Settlement
During this protracted litigation, there were numerous allegations of abuses, wrongs, delays, digressions, and departures from the applicable rules. Defendant Con Edison moved for sanctions for serious misconduct in discovery, including striking Plaintiff's demand for damages. As the sanctions hearing was scheduled to commence, Mr. Mitchell, Plaintiff's counsel, announced: "yesterday we met and my client wants to settle the case." (July 24, 2007, Tr. pg. 3, l. 4.) That meeting included the Plaintiff, Ms. Moore, who attended and participated in the settlement discussions. When Mr. Mitchell said that the settlement would be subject to approval by a New York State Workers' Compensation Administrative Law Judge, which could be obtained in several days or weeks, the Court rejected that proposal because it appeared to be more consistent with the tactics of delay and obfuscation that had been too common throughout this protracted litigation. The Court advised Mr. Mitchell to settle the matter immediately or to proceed with the sanctions hearing. The Court allowed the parties a final chance to resolve their differences.
After a private meeting, the parties asked to meet the Court in the robing room because of the confidentiality of the settlement agreement. The parties made a disclosure of the total amount of the settlement, the component parts thereof, as well as an overview of the mechanics of the settlement.
Upon return to the courtroom, the following discussion occurred:
The Court: The parties had an off-the-record conversation that the matter has been resolved. Do you want to read into the record, not the details of the agreement, but the fact that you have reached an agreement and Mr. Mitchell that you are authorized to make this agreement on your client's behalf?
Mr. Mitchell: Yes. Based on the circumstances that occurred here today in the courtroom and my discussions with Mr. Sandak, I am authorized to settle this case and discontinue it. And that's what we're doing based upon the agreement that Mr. Sandak and I made in the jury room.
The Court: And it was recited to me in an off-the-record conversation in the robing room.
Mr. Mitchell: That's correct.
The Court: Mr. Sandak, do you want to add anything?
Mr. Sandak: No, your Honor.
(July 24, 2007, Tr. pg. 8, ll. 7-22.) Mr. Mitchell then began to quibble about how soon the settlement would be effectuated and ...