DANIELLE N. CARR AND MATTHEW G. NAUSE, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
CHRISTOPHER F. SHEEHAN AND BLAKE ANN SHEEHAN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.
AMDURSKY, PELKY, FENNELL & WALLEN, P.C., OSWEGO (TIMOTHY
J. FENNELL OF COUNSEL), FOR DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.
CONBOY, MCKAY, BACHMAN & KENDALL, LLP, WATERTOWN (DAVID
B. GEURTSEN OF COUNSEL), FOR PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS.
PRESENT: WHALEN, P.J., CENTRA, PERADOTTO, DEJOSEPH, AND
from an order of the Supreme Court, Oswego County (Norman W.
Seiter, Jr., J.), entered October 9, 2015. The order granted
the motion of plaintiffs to enforce a settlement agreement.
hereby ORDERED that the order so appealed from is unanimously
affirmed without costs.
Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking, inter alia, a
declaration that they held a prescriptive easement over
defendants' property for parking purposes. On the day
scheduled for trial, the parties reached a settlement
agreement that was placed on the record. Pursuant to the
stipulation, defendants agreed to convey the northern portion
of their parcel to plaintiffs. The parties identified the
boundaries using a survey, but they agreed to meet with a
surveyor at the property to provide exact measurements.
Defendants' attorney described the southern boundary by
referring to a surveyor's pin at the northeastern corner
of the parcel and stating that the line would run
perpendicular to the adjacent road. He stated that the
surveyor was needed to draw the boundary line such that the
area was wide enough between that line and defendants'
garage to enable defendants to move their boat and trailer.
Defendants' attorney stated that "[a]s long as
[defendants] have the ability to do that... [the stipulation]
was acceptable to them." Two months later, the parties
and their attorneys met at the site and determined that
defendants' boat and trailer measured eight feet in
width, but defendants rejected the proposed boundary line.
Plaintiffs obtained a survey map and legal description from
the surveyor, which drew the boundary line such that there
was 10 feet of space between the boundary line and
defendants' garage. When defendants still refused to
convey the property, plaintiffs moved to enforce the
stipulation and compel defendants to convey the northern
parcel to plaintiffs. Supreme Court granted the motion, and
defendants now appeal.
is well settled that [a]n oral stipulation of settlement that
is made in open court and stenographically recorded is
enforceable as a contract and is governed by general contract
principles for its interpretation and effect' "
(Gay v Gay, 118 A.D.3d 1331, 1332, lv
dismissed 25 N.Y.3d 1015; see Walker v Walker,
42 A.D.3d 928, 928, lv dismissed 9 N.Y.3d 947). We
reject defendants' contention that the stipulation was
simply "an agreement to agree." "If an
agreement is not reasonably certain in its material terms,
there can be no legally enforceable contract"
(Cobble Hill Nursing Home v Henry & Warren
Corp., 74 N.Y.2d 475, 482, rearg denied 75
N.Y.2d 863, cert denied 498 U.S. 816; see Matter
of 166 Mamaroneck Ave. Corp. v 151 E. Post Rd. Corp., 78
N.Y.2d 88, 91; Joseph Martin, Jr., Delicatessen v
Schumacher, 52 N.Y.2d 105, 109). Thus, "a mere
agreement to agree, in which a material term is left for
future negotiations, is unenforceable" (Joseph
Martin, Jr., Delicatessen, 52 N.Y.2d at 109; see 166
Mamaroneck Ave Corp., 78 N.Y.2d at 91). Nevertheless,
the "doctrine of definiteness" should not be
applied rigidly (166 Mamaroneck Ave. Corp., 78
N.Y.2d at 91; see Cobble Hill Nursing Home, 74
N.Y.2d at 482-483). "[W]here it is clear from the
language of an agreement that the parties intended to be
bound and there exists an objective method for supplying a
missing term, the court should endeavor to hold the parties
to their bargain" (166 Mamaroneck Ave. Corp.,
78 N.Y.2d at 91; see Joseph Martin, Jr.,
Delicatessen, 52 N.Y.2d at 110).
although the precise location of the boundary line was
missing from the stipulation, the stipulation was
sufficiently definite to be enforceable because it included
an "objective method" for determining whether the
proposed boundary line drawn by the surveyor was satisfactory
(166 Mamaroneck Ave. Corp., 78 N.Y.2d at 91; see
Samonek v Pratt, 112 A.D.3d 1044, 1045). The
parties' approval of the proposed boundary line was
conditioned solely on whether there was enough clearance for
defendants' boat and trailer and, in opposition to the
motion, defendants did not argue that 10 feet of clearance
was insufficient. Defendants' mere disagreement with the
boundary line that was drawn by the surveyor was not ...