United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT
KARI A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT
plaintiff Shawn Crocker (“Crocker”), commenced
this action on April 9, 2018. At that time, the matter of
Crocker v. Murphy, No. 13cv1774 (JCH), (hereinafter
“Crocker v. Murphy”), involving claims
against several State actors was pending. On May 31, 2018,
the parties in Crocker v. Murphy, filed a Notice of
Settlement stating that settlement had been reached subject
to the execution of an agreement. Thereafter, on June 1,
2018, the court, (Hall, D.J.), entered an order closing that
case in light of the Notice of Settlement. The dismissal was
without prejudice to reopening on or before July 15, 2018.
See Crocker v. Murphy, No. 3:13-cv-1774 (JCH) (D.
Conn. June 1, 2018) (Doc. No. 68, Order re Notice of
Settlement). The parties did not move to reopen. In July
2018, the parties signed the Release and Settlement Agreement
in Crocker v. Murphy. The parties did not file the
Settlement Agreement in Crocker v. Murphy or ask
that its provisions be incorporated into the order of
dismissal. On August 7, 2018, the defendants filed a motion
in this case seeking to enforce the settlement agreement from
Crocker v. Murphy as a means of defeating the
plaintiff's claims brought herein. The plaintiff
objected. For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.
district court has the power to enforce summarily, on motion,
a settlement agreement reached in a case that was pending
before it.” Polk v. Sherwin-Williams Co.,
No. 3:16-CV-1491 (MPS), 2017 WL 1186323, at *1 (D. Conn. Mar.
29, 2017) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted);
see also Janus Films, Inc. v. Miller, 801 F.2d 578,
583 (2d Cir. 1986) (“A court's authority to enforce
a settlement by entry of judgment in the underlying action is
especially clear where the settlement is reported to the
court during the course of a trial or other significant
courtroom proceedings.”). After a case has been
dismissed, “there are only two ways in which a district
court may retain ancillary jurisdiction to enforce the terms
of a settlement agreement: it may ‘expressly retain
jurisdiction over enforcement of the agreement' in an
order of the court, or it may ‘incorporate the terms of
that agreement' in such an order.” Hendrickson
v. United States, 791 F.3d 354, 359-60 (2d Cir. 2015)
(reaffirming holding of Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994)) (citation and
alteration omitted). Unless the court has retained
jurisdiction over the settlement through one of these two
mechanisms, enforcement of the settlement agreement must be
pursued in state court. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 382.
See also Roberson v. Giuliani, 346 F.3d 75, 80 (2d
Cir. 2003) (“[T]he enforcement of a [private]
settlement agreement normally proceeds in state courts unless
there is an independent basis for federal
defendants assert that the settlement agreement and release
reached in Crocker v. Murphy, encompasses the
parties and claims in this action. Through summary
enforcement of the agreement, they seek judgment in their
defendants rely on two cases to support a finding that this
court has jurisdiction to decide the motion and grant the
relief requested. Gonzalez v. Jurella, No.
3:14-cv-1250 (AWT), 2015 WL 9943596 (D. Conn. Sept. 22,
2015), and Vincent v. Hull, No. 3:12-cv-242 (AWT),
2012 WL 12883961 (D. Conn. Dec. 11, 2012), report and
recommendation adopted, 2013 WL 12123975 (D. Conn. Jan.
12, 2013)). In both cases, however, the motion to enforce was
filed in the case in which the settlement agreement was
reached and while that case was pending. See
Gonzalez, 2015 WL 9943596, at *5 (court determined that
settlement agreement was valid; granted motion to enforce
agreement; and ordered that case, as well as all other
pending cases listed in the agreement, be closed);
Vincent, 2012 WL 12883961, at *3 (court determined
which of two purported settlement agreements should be
enforced and ordered case dismissed pursuant to operative
defendants do not identify any authority allowing a court to
entertain a motion to enforce a settlement agreement in a
case different than the case giving rise to the settlement
agreement in the first instance. Research has revealed none.
As the case in which the settlement agreement was reached is
closed and the district court did not retain jurisdiction
over the settlement agreement or incorporate it into any of
its orders, this Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the
defendants' motion. However, if the defendants wish to
assert the settlement agreement and release as a bar to the
plaintiff's claims in this matter, they may raise these
issues by way of affirmative defense and a motion for summary
judgment as may be appropriate. See e.g. Shakur v.
Bruno, No. 3:12-cv-984 (SRU), 2014 WL 645028 (D.Conn.
Feb. 14, 2014)(Where defendants asserted settlement and
release as a bar to plaintiff's action, court converted
the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment
limited to the question of whether the release precluded the
plaintiff's claims.); Mosley v. Jennings, No.
16-CV-994 (RA), 2108 WL 583121 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 26, 2018)(Court
considered as an issue for summary judgment whether a
previously signed release and settlement barred
plaintiff's claims.); Cantey v. Mount Vernon City
School District, No. 16-CV-2669 (NSR), 2018 WL 3315574
(S.D.N.Y. July 5, 2018)(Court converted a motion to dismiss
based upon prior settlement agreement and release to a motion
for summary judgment and considered plaintiff's challenge
to the validity of the settlement agreement.).
of the foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion to
enforce settlement ...