United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on cross motions to enforce the
parties' settlement agreement. Each party opposes the
other's motion. The Court conducted a hearing on December
13, 2016. For the following reasons, the Court will grant
defendant's motion and deny plaintiff's motion.
8, 2014, plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging violations of
the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. The claims arise
out of plaintiff's participation in Defendant's
Master's Degree Program in the Department of
International Relations at Defendant's campus in Geneva,
to this Court's Order, the parties attended mediation on
January 25, 2016. Mediation continued through the morning of
January 26, 2016. Both sides were represented by counsel.
Both sides agree that the parties engaged in mediation of the
suit, and reached an agreement to resolve all issues in the
suit. In her motion to enforce the settlement agreement,
plaintiff argues that the term agreement fails to include
certain items she claims were part of the settlement.
parties agreed upon a Term Sheet, which would be formalized
in a typewritten settlement agreement. The mediator advised
the Court that this action had been settled. The Court
vacated the trial setting, denied without prejudice any
pending motions, and ordered the parties to file a
stipulation for dismissal, a motion for leave to voluntarily
dismiss, or a proposed consent judgment.
counsel has withdrawn and plaintiff is now proceeding pro se.
Apparently, plaintiff had a change of heart. Plaintiff states
that some of the items which were agreed to are not part of
the Term Sheet. Defendant submits the Term Sheet as the
parties' agreement because plaintiff continued to attempt
to add language in the formal settlement agreement that
defendant submitted to her.
district court has inherent power to enforce a settlement
agreement as a matter of law when the terms are unambiguous,
' and in a diversity case, the settlement agreement is
construed according to state law. Barry v. Barry,
172 F.3d 1011, 1013 (8th Cir. 1999). In Missouri,
interpreting a settlement or release agreement is a question
of law, and the agreement is ‘interpreted according to
the same principles that govern the interpretation of any
other type of contract.' Parks v. MBNA Am.
Bank, 204 S.W.3d 305, 311 (Mo.Ct.App. 2006). Courts must
‘ascertain the intention of the parties and . . . give
effect to that intention.' Id. (internal marks
omitted).”' Harper Enters., Inc. v. Aprilia
World Service USA, Inc., 270 F. App'x 458, 460 (8th
Cir. 2008). (unpublished per curiam). “Additionally, in
Missouri, the party attacking a release or settlement
‘bears the burden of showing that the contract he has
made is tainted with invalidity, either by fraud practiced
upon him or by a mutual mistake under which both parties
acted.' Cameron v. Norfolk & W. Ry., 891
S.W.2d 495, 499 (Mo.Ct.App. 1994).” Id.
both parties seem to agree that they entered into a valid and
enforceable settlement agreement. Plaintiff's motion to
enforce the agreement states some of the terms on which the
parties agreed are absent from the Term Sheet.
signed the Term Sheet and she has not alleged any facts that
would require the Court to rescind the agreement. She has not
proved the agreement was “tainted with
invalidity.” Harper Enters., Inc., 270 F.
App'x at 600. Nor has she presented any evidence of any
fraud or mistake. Her reasons for attempting to back out of
the settlement agreement is that she wants to add certain
obligations to the settlement of which the parties did not
on defendants' motion and the exhibits thereto (filed
under seal), the Court finds the parties entered into a valid
settlement agreement under Missouri law. See Bath Junkie
Branson, LLC v. Bath Junkie, Inc., 528 F.3d 556, 561
(8th Cir. 2008). The parties to the agreement were competent,
there was legal consideration, mutuality of agreement, and
mutuality of obligation. Id.
has not met her burden to rescind the Term Sheet and her
motion will be denied. The Court will grant defendants'
motion to enforce the settlement agreement.
HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion to enforce settlement
is DENIED IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants' motion