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Norton v. Correctional Medical Care

October 18, 2010

KATHY NORTON, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL CARE, INC., AND MICHELLE PARSONS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. McAVOY, Senior United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff commenced this action alleging a collective action claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act for unpaid overtime on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; individual claims of discrimination under the federal and New York state anti-discrimination laws; and a claimed violation of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA"). See Am. Compl. [dkt. # 15]. Plaintiff now moves for an order enforcing the terms of a settlement agreement circulated between counsel. See Mot. [dkt. # 24]. Defendants have opposed the motion. See Opp. to Mot. [dkt. # 26]. For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

There is little dispute regarding the material facts surrounding the purported settlement of this action. See Joseph Aff., Ex. A (Agreed Statement of Facts). On May 28, 2010, "the parties reached a settlement in principle of [the] monetary component to be paid to plaintiff by defendant." Id. ¶ 1. It was agreed by the attorneys that defense counsel would draft the settlement agreement. Id. ¶ 2. On June 3, defense counsel sent an e-mail to plaintiff's counsel stating: "I am finalizing the agreement and my client needs to look at [it]. I am aiming for early next week." Id. ¶ 3. On June 7, defense counsel sent another e-mail indicating that she was working on getting the draft agreement to plaintiff's counsel as soon as she could. Id. ¶ 4.

On June 9, plaintiff's counsel sent an e-mail stating: "I didn't want to pressure you without need. But things have changed a little and I need that agreement as soon as possible. Can you get it to me today?" Id. ¶ 5. Defense counsel responded: "I have not gotten all the comments back from my client, I do not anticipate major changes, but I can send you what I have with the caveat that there may be a few changes. OK?" Id. ¶ 6. Plaintiff responded back: "OK, good idea." Id. ¶ 7. Defense counsel then sent plaintiff's counsel a Release and Settlement Agreement stamped with the word: "DRAFT." Id. ¶ 8.

After reviewing the draft settlement agreement, plaintiff's counsel sent defense counsel e-mails on June 9 indicating that he wanted included in the agreement mutual non-disparagement, mutual remedy for breach, and mutual confidentiality clauses. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Plaintiff's counsel also asked whether it was necessary for Defendant to issue Plaintiff a tax form 1099 for attorney's fees to be paid under the settlement. Id. ¶ 9. On June 10, defense counsel wrote to the Court indicating that the parties had "an agreement in principle to resolve [the] matter" and that it would take "approximately four (4) weeks to finalize [the] settlement agreement." Id. ¶ 11.

Between June 14 and June 23, plaintiff's counsel e-mailed defense counsel several times inquiring about the status of the agreement and Plaintiff's proposals for additions to the agreement. Id. ¶ 13. Defense counsel responded to the e-mails indicating, in substance, that she was still attempting to speak with her client regarding the terms of the agreement but had not been able to do so. Id. ¶ 14. On June 23, plaintiff's counsel had his client sign the draft agreement that was sent on June 9, and then sent the agreement to defense counsel with the following text:

In an abundance of caution I am sending you [the] agreement signed by my client. We therefore have agreed to all terms. As she has seven days to revoke, I believe we have time and reason to further discuss the changes asked for. I am sure you understand.

Id. ¶ 15.

Defense counsel immediately responded:

Why [sic] I do understand your client's concerns, we have not agreed on all terms stated in your email below. I specifically stated to you, and wrote in my email of June 9, 2010, that there may be changes from my client, this is why I specifically wrote DRAFT on the agreement. Moreover, it is not signed by my client.

I told you earlier today that I will be speaking with my client tomorrow (we were supposed to speak today and he had family issues to attend to). I also told you that I will be in touch with you tomorrow, and I will.

Id. ΒΆ 16. Plaintiff responded: "Thanks. We[,] I believe[,] are all working towards the same goal and ...


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