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Brown v. County of Madison

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 27, 2015

PAUL BROWN; and VINCENT ROGOWSKI, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF MADISON, Defendant.

JOHN R. VONINSKI, ESQ., ROGER B. WILLIAMS, ESQ., OFFICE OF JOHN R. VONINSKI, Manlius, NY, Counsel for Plaintiffs.

CHRISTOPHER J. HARRIGAN, ESQ., ANNE B. DOTZLER, ESQ., HISCOCK & BARCLAY LLP, Syracuse, NY, Counsel for Defendant.

DECISION and ORDER

GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.

Currently pending before the Court, in this civil rights action filed by Paul Brown and Vincent Rogowski ("Plaintiffs") against the County of Madison ("Defendant"), is Plaintiffs' motion to enforce the parties' settlement agreement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). (Dkt. No. 61.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' motion is denied.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiffs' Claims

Generally, liberally construed, Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges that, on October 9, 2007, in Wampsville, New York, Defendant wrongfully denied them entry to the Madison County Courthouse by failing to make the building accessible to disabled persons of limited mobility (such as Plaintiffs), thus violating their following rights: (1) their right to equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) their right to access the courts under the First Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) their right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (5) their right to public accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. ("ADA"). ( See generally Dkt. No. 26 [Plfs.' Am. Compl.].) As relief for these violations, the Amended Complaint seeks declaratory relief, injunctive relief, compensatory damages, and attorney's fees. (Id. ) Familiarity with the factual allegations supporting these claims and forms of requested relief is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for the review of the parties. (Id. )

B. Relevant Procedural History

On September 7, 2011, the parties reached a "tentative settlement" of the issues pending in this litigation, the "material terms" of which they placed on the record in open court. (Dkt. No. 61, Attach. 3, at 2-3 [Transcript of Settlement Proceeding].) Pursuant to those terms, the parties agreed that, inter alia, (1) Defendant will undertake the ground-level renovations of the Madison County courthouse as proposed in the February 2011 architectural design drawings (attached as Exhibit A to the transcript), (2) after that approval is obtained, Defendant will retain an architect to amplify the drawings and then will submit those amplified drawings to Plaintiffs for approval, (3) after Plaintiffs have approved the amplified drawings, Defendant will submit the drawings to the New York State Office of Court Administration ("OCA") for approval, (4) after the OCA has approved the amplified drawings, Defendant will enter into the bid process, (5) following the proceeding of September 7, 2011, Defendant will "negotiate a comprehensive settlement agreement and release that will include the terms that we've talked about here today as well as other terms relating to the release of this claim and the continuing jurisdiction of the Court, among other things, " and (6) Defendant will seek, and recommend, the approval of the terms by the Madison County Board of Supervisors. (Id. at 3-6.)

On February 14, 2012, the parties negotiated and entered into a written Settlement Agreement. (Dkt. No. 61, Attach. 5.) In pertinent part, that written Settlement Agreement provided as follows:

(a) Renovations. Defendant shall make certain renovations to the Madison County Courthouse as reflected in the detailed architectural plans and drawings agreed upon by the Parties, and approved by the Madison County Board of Supervisors as well as the New York State Office of Court Administration. Defendant shall provide Plaintiffs' attorneys with its architect's amplified plans and drawings of the renovations for review and approval prior to submitting same for approval to the Office of Court Administration, its Chief Architect, and its Statewide ADA Coordinator. Plaintiffs may object to the amplified drawings only if the proposed renovations are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, or the New York State Building Code. Upon review and approval of the proposed renovations by Plaintiffs, Defendant shall submit the proposed renovations to the Office of Court Administration for approval.

(Id. at 2 [emphasis added].) On March 6, 2012, the Court issued an Order dismissing the case without prejudice to the right of the parties to secure reinstatement of the case within one hundred and eighty (180) days after the date of this judgment by making a showing that the settlement was not, in fact, consummated. (Dkt. No. 42.) Subsequently, that deadline was extended and then eventually stayed.[1]

On June 18, 2012, Defendant provided 16 pages of plans and drawings to Plaintiffs for their review and approval. (Dkt. No. 63, Attach. 1; see also Dkt. No. 43 [admitting receipt].) However, at some point between June 18, 2012, and August 10, 2012, Plaintiffs objected to those plans and drawings, and requested detailed "bid drawings." (Dkt. No. 63, at ¶ 7; Dkt. No. 66, Attach. 1 [attaching email message dated Aug. 10, 2012]; cf. Dkt. No. 43 [stating that "there have been multiple clarifications requested by the Plaintiffs"]; Dkt. No. 66, at ¶¶ 7-8 [Voninski Affirm., arguing that what was "promised" and "contemplated" in the Settlement Agreement were "bid drawings"].) On August 10, 2012, Defendant sent Plaintiffs an email message advising them that, "per your request, the County has directed its architect to submit more detailed drawings for the Courthouse renovation project...." (Dkt. No. 66, Attach. 1.)

Between August 10, 2012, and March 1, 2013, the following occurred: (1) Defendant's expert architect and engineer (i) met with the County representatives and judges to discuss details of the project, (ii) conducted a comprehensive inspection of the space being renovated, and (iii) prepared the comprehensive and detailed bid drawings; and (2) individuals' schedules were coordinated so that the OCA, as it demanded, could be included in any ...


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