United States District Court, D. Hawaii
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO GRANT DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT
TRADER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Motion to Enforce Settlement (“Motion”) (ECF No.
109) came on for hearing on August 15, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
before the Honorable Judge Rom A. Trader. Plaintiff Mario
Cooper, pro se (“Plaintiff”), appeared on behalf
of himself by phone. Jeffrey A. Keating, Deputy Attorney
General, appeared on behalf of the Defendants, State of
Hawaii, Department of Taxation, et al.
(“Defendants”). The Court will enter its
disposition through findings and recommendations pursuant to
Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Court, having carefully considered the written submissions of
the parties, the parties' declarations and exhibits, the
argument of counsel, the records and files in this case, and
the applicable law, FINDS and RECOMMENDS that Defendants'
Motion be GRANTED for the reasons stated on the record and as
25, 2019, the Court held a settlement conference in this
matter. This Court facilitated settlement discussions, which
led to the resolution of this case. On that same day,
Plaintiff and Defendants' counsel came into open court
and stated on the record that they had agreed to settle this
case. The material terms of the settlement were placed on the
terms of the settlement were that in exchange for general
damages of $80, 000.00, Defendant agreed to a
non-disparagement provision in that the Department of Tax and
the Department of Human Resources would respond to inquiries
about Plaintiff's prior employment with the Department of
Taxation in a neutral manner. Motion, Exhibit B, p. 2,
¶¶ 19-25. Defendants were permitted to release
neutral, factual information verifying Plaintiff's
employment and neutral, factual information of the type
generally reported. Id. at p. 3, ¶¶ 1-10.
However, Defendants may not suggest or confirm in any way
that Plaintiff was terminated. Id.
further agreed that he would be precluded from reapplying for
employment with the Department of Taxation or the Department
of Human Resources, but was not precluded from applying for
other positions with the state government or elsewhere.
Id. at p. 3, ¶¶ 7-15. Plaintiff agreed to
dismiss any and all related cases that stem from
Plaintiff's employment at the Department of Taxation,
except for Plaintiff's ongoing worker's compensation
case. Id. at p. 3, ¶¶ 16-21. Such cases
included but are not limited to Plaintiff's pending state
case in circuit court, cases pending before the Hawaii Labor
Relations Board, and Plaintiff's grievance/arbitration
case. Id. at p. 3, ¶¶ 22-25. The parties
agreed to bear their own attorneys' fees and costs.
Id. at p. 4, ¶¶ 3-5. However, the parties
agreed that the Court would retain jurisdiction for the
limited purpose of resolving any disputes relating to the
enforcement of the settlement. Id. at p. 4,
Court specifically asked Plaintiff whether these terms
“accurately state the material terms of the
settlement” and are “satisfactory to [his]
understanding of what the terms are.” Id. at
p. 4, ¶¶ 9-12; ¶¶ 19-24. Plaintiff
responded, “Yes, they are.” Id. at
¶ 25. Upon explaining the next steps after execution of
the settlement agreement, this Court again inquired whether
Plaintiff understood all the terms of the settlement
agreement. Id. at p. 5, ¶¶ 10-11.
Plaintiff responded, “Yes, I have.” Id.
at ¶ 12. The Court further asked if the material terms
agreed upon was Plaintiff's “full and complete
understanding of the terms, ” to which Plaintiff
responded, “Yes.” Id. at ¶¶
13-16. The Court then asked the parties if they
“consent or agree to resolve this case and the other
cases consistent with those terms, ” and Plaintiff
responded, “I agree.” Id. at
Court set July 25, 2019 as the deadline for the parties to
submit their stipulated dismissal of this action. Defendants
prepared the settlement documents memorializing the
agreement. However, Plaintiff later refused to sign the draft
settlement agreement. Defendants filed their Motion on July
10, 2019. On July 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed his Opposition to
Defendants' Motion to Enforce the Settlement Agreement
(“Opposition”) arguing that (1) the proposed
settlement does not reflect a reasonable compromise of
Plaintiff's Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)
claim, and no bona fide dispute exists in this case; (2) the
release is unenforceable on public policy grounds; (3) no
stipulation exists because Plaintiff objects to the proposed
release; and (4) Defendants did not have proper settlement
authority. ECF No. 112. The Defendants filed their Reply on
July 23, 2019. ECF No. 113.
The Oral Agreement on Record is a Binding Settlement
is now well established that the trial court has power to
summarily enforce on motion a settlement agreement entered
into by the litigants while the litigation is pending before
it.'” In re City Equities Anaheim, Ltd.,
22 F.3d 954, 957 (9th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted).
motion to enforce [a] settlement agreement essentially is an
action to specifically enforce a contract.” Adams
v. Johns-Manville Corp., 876 F.2d 702, 709 (9th Cir.
1989) (citations omitted). “In order to be enforceable,
a settlement agreement must have the traditional elements of
a contract: offer, acceptance, consideration, and parties who
have the capacity and authority to enter into the
agreement.” Kaiaokamalie v. Matson Terminals,
Inc., Civ. No. 13-00383 JMS-RLP, 2016 WL 7476336, at *4
(D. Haw. Dec. 29, 2016); Amantiad v. Odum, 90
Hawai'i 152, 162, 977 P.2d 160, 170 (1999) (citation
settlement in this case included all the elements of a
contract: offer and acceptance, consideration, and parties
who had the capacity and authority to enter into the
settlement. The material terms of the settlement were clear
and were unequivocally placed on the record. The Defendants
agreed to pay Plaintiff $80, 000.00. Motion, Exhibit B, p. 5,
¶¶ 1-5. In turn, the Plaintiff agreed to dismiss
any and all related cases that stem from Plaintiff's
employment at the Department of Taxation, with the exception
of Plaintiff's worker's compensation case.
Id. at p. 3, ¶¶ 16-21. This dismissal was