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Miller v. Holzmann

March 8, 2007

RICHARD F. MILLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHILLIP HOLZMANN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before me is Defendant Roy Anderson's Expedited Motion to Enforce His Settlement Agreement with the United States and Memorandum of Law in Support ("Motion"). For the reasons stated below, the motion will be denied.

There is no genuine issue as to the following material facts.

1. On November 16, 2004, Carolyn G. Mark, Esq., Senior Trial Counsel with Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office ("Mark"), transmitted to counsel for the defendant E. Roy Anderson ("Anderson") a draft settlement agreement. An accompanying letter indicated that "the agreement is subject to the authorization and approval of the officials of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia." Motion, Exhibit 2.

2. The draft agreement had signature blocks for counsel for Anderson Charles C. Murphy, Jr. ("Murphy"), Mark, Assistant United States, Attorney Keith V. Morgan ("Morgan") and counsel for relator, Robert Bell ("Bell"). Id.

3. On December 28, 2004, Murphy sent an e-mail to Mark and Morgan indicating that he was authorized to sign that agreement and asked them how they would like to proceed. Id., Exhibit 3.

4. On February 7, 2006, Mark wrote Murphy that the offer to settle the case for $25,000 was acceptable to the Department of Justice. She stated: "Accordingly, we may proceed with finalizing the settlement agreement." Id., Exhibit 4.

5. On February 15, 2006, Murphy wrote Mark to tell her that in light of Anderson's advancing Alzheimer's disease, Murphy was unsure "about his [Anderson's] ability to enter into a settlement of this nature without a court's oversight through the formal appointment of a guardian or whatever." Id., Exhibit 5. He also asked that the government reconsider its insistence that Anderson pay $25,000 as a term of the settlement. Id.

6. On September 22, 2006, Murphy wrote Mark confirming the telephone conversation of September 13, 2006 during "which [Mark] expressed agreement on behalf of the United States to [Murphy's] renewed offer to settle the referenced case for the payment of $25,000." Id., Exhibit 6. Murphy also indicated that he "looked forward to receiving a draft settlement agreement from [her] at [her] convenience." Id.

7. On October 13, 2006, Mark e-mailed Murphy that the relator had declined to enter into the settlement agreement. Id., Exhibit 7.

8. On February 16, 2007, Ellen Schlossberg, Esq., Anderson's counsel, e-mailed Morgan and Bell, indicating her desire to have a conference to "discuss finalizing [the] settlement." She also stated that: "On the other hand, if we are all in agreement, Chuck ["Murphy"] and I can sign the settlement document." Id., Exhibit 10.

9. On February 21, 2007, Murphy wrote Bell: "I do need to get this settlement agreement finalized and executed as soon as possible." Id., Exhibit 11.

Analysis

Since the contemplated settlement agreement was never signed, Anderson must establish that an oral contract came into existence on February 7, 2006 when Mark indicated that the $25,000 offer was acceptable to the Department of Justice. But, in that very letter, Mark indicated that the parties could proceed with finalizing their written agreement. Subsequent to that letter, the parties discussed finalizing their agreement in writing. Furthermore, it is clear that after February 7, 2006, the parties were still grappling with how to deal with Anderson's mental ...


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