It’s Not Over ‘til it’s Over

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A motion to enforce a settlement agreement in the EDVA is a good reminder that until all the paperwork is signed, and the money is in your client’s hand, cases are not necessarily over.  In Brunelle v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., 2:18-cv-290, the Plaintiff requested the Court reopen the dismissed case and enforce the settlement agreement between the parties.

At issue, is the execution of the “standard” Norfolk Southern employee release.  The parties entered into a settlement of their pending case for a sum of $50,000.  The suit alleged discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  No one disagrees about the amount of the settlement.  The disagreement is about whether the Plaintiff was required to execute a settlement agreement before receiving the money.

Execution of a settlement agreement is fairly standard, so why is this a federal case?  Well, as alleged by the Plaintiff, between reaching an agreement to settle the case and execution of the settlement agreement, Norfolk Southern “removed Brunelle from service for a supposed rule violation, during which the involved manager referenced Brunelle’s settlement.”  And the settlement agreement released “any suits, actions, causes of actions . . . that Releasee could file but has not filed….”  Here, it appeared that by signing the proposed settlement agreement, Plaintiff would have to give up claims that arose after the settlement, but before execution of the settlement agreement.

Judge Krask is scheduled to hold a hearing on October 9, 2019, to decide whether and how to enforce the settlement agreement.

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