United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Team Industrial Services, Inc. moves to enforce the
settlement agreement as negotiated between Defendant and
Plaintiff Yolanda Scott’s attorney relating to Ms.
Scott’s race discrimination claim under the Missouri
Human Rights Act (MHRA), R.S.Mo. §213.010 et
seq. Doc. 13. Defendant Team Industrial Services,
Inc.’s motion to enforce the settlement agreement is
granted for the following reasons.
December 26, 2017, while employed by Team Industrial
Services, Plaintiff was suspended for twenty-one days without
pay pending an investigation into an allegation that she had
acted out against another employee. Doc. 15, at 5. Plaintiff
states that the investigation did not prove these allegations
had occurred and that she was allowed to return to her
position, but without pay for the days she was suspended.
Doc. 1-1 (Complaint), ¶ 15. Plaintiff asserts that an
alleged altercation involving a white employee working for
Defendant did not result in a suspension or missed pay. She
has argued that this establishes the basis for her race
discrimination claim under the Missouri Human Rights Act
(MHRA), R.S.Mo. §213.010 et seq.
was represented by an attorney who handled settlement
negotiations on her behalf. Doc. 10, ¶ 3. Defendant
asserts that after negotiations and phone conversations with
Plaintiff’s counsel, an agreement to settle all matters
was reached on July 10, 2019. Doc. 13, ¶1. After these
oral discussions, counsels for the parties confirmed the
existence of a settlement agreement via email. Doc. 13-1.
This written exchange confirmed that there was an agreement
to resolve the matter for a given amount and that the
agreement was “[s]ubject to an agreed upon Settlement
and Release Agreement with provisions standard of a
Employment Settlement including confidentiality.”
Id. Defendant states that on July 12, 2019 they were
notified by Plaintiff’s attorney that Plaintiff now
disagreed with the settlement reached, Doc. 13, ¶ 3, and
Plaintiff’s attorney subsequently filed a motion to
withdraw as counsel, Doc. 10. Defendant now brings this
motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Doc. 13.
Plaintiff argues that the settlement agreement should not be
enforced because she was not properly represented by her
lawyer. Doc. 15, at 1.
district court “has inherent power to enforce a
settlement agreement as a matter of law when the terms are
unambiguous . . . .” Harper Enterprises, Inc. v.
Aprilia World Serv. USA, Inc., 270 Fed.App’x 458,
460 (8th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted) (internal quotation
marks omitted). Basic principles of contract formation govern
the existence and enforcement of settlement agreements.
Chaganti & Assoc., P.C. v. Nowotny, 470 F.3d
1215, 1221 (8th Cir. 2006). A party requesting specific
performance of a settlement agreement has the burden of
proving the agreement “by clear, convincing, and
satisfactory evidence.” Precision Investments, LLC
v. Cornerstone Propane, LP, 220 S.W.3d 301, 303 (Mo.
2007) (en banc) (citation omitted).
an evidentiary hearing should be held where there is “a
substantial factual dispute over the existence or terms of a
settlement.” Chaganti, 470 F.3d at
1222–23 (citation omitted). But no hearing is required
where there are no “essential issues of fact that can
only be properly resolved by such a hearing” and where
“the written record suffices to decide the dispositive
issues.” Bath Junkie Branson, LLC v. Bath Junkie,
Inc., 528 F.3d 556, 561 (8th Cir. 2008).
has not contested the legitimacy of the email submitted by
Defendant which confirms the settlement agreement; nor has
she alleged that any of the terms of the agreement are
ambiguous or contested. While she complains that her
lawyer’s performance was deficient, she does not state
that her attorney lacked authority to enter the settlement
agreement dated July 10, 2019, nor does she allege that she
never agreed to the terms of the settlement.
discussed more fully below, the only issue to be resolved
here is whether an enforceable agreement was entered between
the parties. Because there is no dispute about the facts
concerning the formation of the agreement and “the
written record suffices to decide the dispositive issues . .
., ” an evidentiary hearing is not necessary to resolve
Existence of a Contract
settlement agreement to be enforceable, the parties must have
agreed to the material terms of the deal. Sheng v.
Starkey Labs., Inc., 117 F.3d 1081, 1083 (8th Cir.
1997). Under Missouri law, “[t]he essential elements of
an enforceable contract are parties competent to contract, a
proper subject matter, legal consideration, mutuality of
agreement, and mutuality of obligation.” Bath
Junkie Branson, L.L.C. v. Bath Junkie, Inc., 528 F.3d
556, 561 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting L.B. v. ...