United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
J. GARY COSBY, Plaintiff,
HUNTINGTON INGALLS INCORPORATED Defendant.
S. DAVIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a motion to set aside
settlement filed by Plaintiff J. Gary Cosby
("Plaintiff" or "Cosby"), ECF No. 9, a
motion to withdraw filed by James R. Theuer
("Plaintiff's counsel" or "Theuer"),
ECF No. 10, and a motion to enforce settlement filed by
Defendant Huntington Ingalls Incorporated
("Defendant" or "HII"), ECF No. 13. For
the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's motion to enforce the settlement,
GRANTS Mr. Theuer's motion to withdraw,
and DENIES Plaintiff's motion to set
September 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant suit alleging
that HII had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA") by refusing to permit him to return to work
after he became disabled. Compl., ECF No. 1. Prior to
suffering a heart attack in January 2015, Cosby had worked at
HII as a machinist for twelve years. Id. at ¶
8. In July 2015, Plaintiff's cardiologist cleared him to
return to work, but HII refused to permit Plaintiff to return
to work on the ground that HII's worksite presented
numerous unavoidable hazards to Plaintiff's health.
Id. at ¶¶ 12-16. Plaintiff asserts that he
is disabled within the meaning of the ADA and that HII has
violated his rights under the ADA by refusing to engage in a
reasonable accommodation process for employees returning from
heart trauma with installed devices. Id. at
December 21, 2017, with the assistance of retired United
States Magistrate Judge F. Bradford Stillman
("Mediator")/ the parties engaged in an all-day
mediation. Def.'s Mot. Enf. Settle. Br. 1, ECF No. 18.
Among those present with Plaintiff at the mediation were his
counsel, Mr. Theuer, and Plaintiff's long-term domestic
partner, Ms. Linda Scalia. Id. at 2. During the
mediation, Defendant made an offer of settlement, which was
communicated to Cosby by the Mediator. Id. After
conferencing with Mr. Theuer and Ms. Scalia, Cosby accepted
the agreement. Id. The parties then prepared a
document that records the terms of the agreement that they
titled "Term Sheet". Id. Plaintiff, Mr.
Theuer, and a representative for Defendant all signed the
term sheet. Id. Later that night, the Mediator sent
an email to counsel for both parties congratulating them on
the settlement of the matter. Id. at 4.
following day, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to set
aside settlement. ECF No. 9. He asserts that he was "not
supported by his counsel at the mediation held by the parties
on December 21, 2017." Id. He further states
that "Plaintiff's counsel tried to satisfy the
Defendant at the mediation, and Plaintiff was misled by his
counsel such that his signature on the settlement term sheet
was a mistake." Id. Notably, Plaintiff
acknowledges in his motion that the parties in fact reached a
settlement on the matter and refers to the document he signed
as "the settlement term sheet". Id.
same day, Mr. Theuer filed his motion to withdraw. ECF No.
10. He states that he cannot continue as Plaintiff's
counsel first because "the relationship between the
Plaintiff and counsel is irretrievably broken, " and
second because he is likely to be a material witness in the
resolution of the instant motion to set aside settlement.
Id. On January 2, 2018, Defendant responded to the
motion to withdraw stating it does not oppose such motion.
ECF No. 12. Plaintiff has not filed any response to Mr.
Theuer7 s motion to withdraw.
January 2, 2018, HII responded to Plaintiff's motion to
set aside settlement, ECF No. 11, and filed the instant
motion to enforce settlement, ECF No. 13. In its brief in
support of its motion to enforce settlement, HII first notes
that Plaintiff does not dispute that the parties reached a
settlement on the matter or that the settlement is
memorialized in the term sheet. Id. at 1-2, ECF No.
18. HII also points out that Plaintiff-by asserting that he
made a "mistake" because he was "not
supported" by his counsel, who purportedly "tried
to satisfy the Defendant at mediation"-has merely
alleged that he was provided inadequate representation during
mediation. Id. at 2 (quoting Pl's Mot. Set Aside
Settle. 1). Defendant asserts that an allegation of
inadequate representation is insufficient, in the absence of
claims that the settlement is "substantially unfair,
" for a court to set aside the settlement, and therefore
requests that the Court enforce the settlement agreement.
Id. at 2-3.
January 10, 2018, Plaintiff replied in opposition to
Defendant's motion to enforce the settlement. ECF No. 19.
In his response, Plaintiff again does not deny
Defendant's assertion that the parties reached an
agreement to settle the case that was memorialized in the
term sheet, though he cryptically states that "the
information presented by Defendant at the mediation was
been fully briefed, the instant motions are ripe for
Court first addresses the parties' motions to enforce or
set aside the settlement agreement before turning to address
Mr. Theuer's motion to withdraw.
Motion to Enforce Settlement and Motion to Set Aside
courts possess "inherent authority, deriving from their
equity power, to enforce settlement agreements."
Hensley v. Alcon Labs., Inc., 277 F.3d 535, 540 (4th
Cir. 2002) (citing Millner v. Norfolk & W. Ry.
Co., 643 F.2d 1005, 1009 (4th Cir. 1981)). Resolution of
a motion to enforce a settlement agreement draws on standard
contract principles. Id. To enforce a settlement
agreement, a district court must (1) find that the parties
agreed to settle the case, and (2) be able to determine terms
of the settlement. Moore v. Beaufort Cty., N.C. ,
936 F.2d 159, 162 (4th Cir. 1991). Where a court finds that
the parties entered into a binding settlement agreement, it
may summarily enforce the agreement without a plenary
hearing. Hensley, 277 F.3d. at 540. Where, on the
other hand, there is a material dispute about the ...