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Goan v. Mills

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

March 24, 2017

JAMES R. GOAN ET AL.
v.
BILLY B. MILLS

          Session Date: December 14, 2016

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hawkins County No. 09CV0375 Alex E. Pearson, Judge

         Plaintiff James R. Goan's mail delivery vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Billy B. Mills as Plaintiff was delivering mail. The Plaintiff and his wife, Judy Goan, sued Mills. During settlement negotiations, Plaintiffs offered to settle for $100, 000, the limits of Defendant's insurance policy. Defendant accepted the offer on December 4, 2013. Over a year later, Defendant filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. The Plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that there had been no meeting of the minds and no enforceable agreement. The trial court enforced the settlement agreement. The Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Thomas C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, for appellants, James R. Goan and Judy Goan.

          Thomas L. Kilday, Greeneville, Tennessee, for appellee, Billy Bruce Mills.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and John W. McClarty, J., joined.

          OPINION

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE

          I.

         The accident occurred on August 22, 2008. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on August 17, 2009. Settlement negotiations ensued. The record contains correspondence between the lawyers for the parties. On April 26, 2013, Plaintiffs' counsel sent Defendant's counsel a letter saying:

I met with Mr. Goan who advised he has been approved for back surgery by workers comp.[1] I believe the original medical bills that we have provided you totaled over $76, 000.00. Obviously they have increased. I believe the federal workers comp subrogation was approximately $53, 000.00. Obviously it is increasing. I have an agreement with comp that we can settle this case now, save the costs of medical discovery and keep the file open while we are waiting on his surgery. . . . If there is only $100, 000.00 in insurance, I would demand the policy limits primarily because of workers comp.

(Footnote added.) On August 23, 2013, Plaintiffs' counsel sent another letter saying:

We have ordered from workers comp the updated numbers on Mr. Goan. They tell us the total subrogation now is $78, 000.00 . . . Given the $78, 000.00, I go back to demanding the limits which I believe is $100, 000.00 but as we discussed I need a firm number from you to figure out compromising the comp claim.

         On November 6, 2013, Plaintiffs' counsel reiterated their offer, stating, "we would renew our demand for the policy limits of $100, 000." This was followed by another letter on December 4, 2013, saying, "[p]er our discussion, my client has reject[ed] the ...


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