United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
JIMMY D. COSPER, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
Jimmy Cosper, brought this action against the United States
for damages incurred as a result of an automobile accident
with an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearms. Before the court is the United States' motion
to enforce the parties' settlement agreement. For the
reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.
filed this action on July 29, 2016. The parties negotiated a
settlement of $10, 000 the first week of January 2017. A
stipulation for Compromise Settlement and Release of Federal
Tort Act claims was signed by Cosper, his counsel, and
counsel for the United States on January 31, 2017. On
February 2, 2017, documentation was sent to the Department of
Treasury for an electronic funds transfer. The Treasury
Department offset a debt owed by Cosper (child support
obligation) and transferred one dollar ($1) to Cosper's
counsel's account. Cosper and his counsel have refused to
sign a stipulation of dismissal of the case.
United States moves for enforcement of the settlement
agreement and dismissal of the case stating that the parties
reached an agreement on all material terms of settlement, and
the United States acted on that agreement by preparing an
electronic funds transfer. Despite an offset by the Treasury
Department, Cosper has received the benefit of his bargained
for settlement, but the United States has not received the
benefit of its bargain - dismissal of the case.
has not responded to the United States' motion and
pursuant to LR 7.2, his failure to respond will be deemed a
waiver of any opposition to the relief sought.
courts have the inherent power to enforce agreements entered
into in settlement of litigation pending before them.
Brock v. Scheuner Corp., 841 F.2d 151, 154
(6th Cir. 1988). Public policy strongly favors
settlement of disputes without litigation, and settlement
agreements should be upheld whenever it is equitable to do
so. Aro Corp. v. Allied Witan Co., 531 F.2d 1368,
1372 (6th Cir. 1976). Because settlement agreements are a
type of contract, the formation and enforceability of a
purported settlement agreement are governed by state contract
law. Tocci v. Antioch Univ., 967 F.Supp.2d 1176,
1191 (S.D. Ohio 2013).
enforcing a settlement, the court must conclude that
agreement has been reached on all material terms.
Brock., 841 F.2d at 154. An evidentiary hearing may
be required where facts material to an agreement are
disputed. Aro Corp., 531 F.2d at 1372. However, no
evidentiary hearing is required where an agreement is clear
and unambiguous and no issue of fact is present. Id.
Thus, summary enforcement of a settlement agreement has been
deemed appropriate where no substantial dispute exists
regarding the entry into and terms of an agreement. Kukla
v. Nat'l Distillers Prods. Co., 483 F.2d 619, 622
(6th Cir. 1973). In so determining, the Sixth Circuit
instructs district courts to consider whether the objective
acts of the parties reflect that an agreement has been
reached. Re/Max Int'l Inc. v. Realty One, Inc.,
271 F.3d 633, 646 (6th Cir. 2001).
Treasury Offset Program subjects to offset all funds payable
by the United States to an individual who owes delinquent
federal debts, unless the payment is exempted from offset by
statute or regulation. See 31 U.S.C. §
3701(a)(1). Once a debt is submitted for administrative
offset, the Treasury Department is required to offset a
payment to satisfy the debt. 31 U.S.C. § 3716(c)(1)(A).
Thus, offset is a mandatory, non-discretionary function.
Johnson v. U.S. Dep't of Treasury, 300 Fed.Appx.
860, 862 (11th Cir. 2008).
on the record herein, the court finds the parties entered
into an enforceable contract. The parties' minds met in
mutual assent to the terms, as evidenced by Cosper's
signature, his counsel's signature, and the signature of
counsel for the United States on the Stipulation and
Acknowledgment. The contract was based upon sufficient
consideration and was free from fraud or undue influence. The
terms were sufficiently definite - $10, 000 to Cosper in
exchange for release of all claims related to the automobile
accident at issue in this case. The United States has
fulfilled its obligation under the contract. The mandatory
offset of a debt by the Treasury Department does not change
the enforceability of the settlement contract. The United
States is only required to remit funds to the extent the
settlement amount exceeds the debt to be offset. See
Hughes v. United States, 2015 WL 4477961 (E.D. La. July
22, 2015). Cosper may be unhappy with the application of the
Treasury Offset Program, but he has no basis for refusing to
agree to dismissal of this case.
settlement is reached, it is the party challenging the
settlement who bears the burden to show that the settlement
contract was invalid based on fraud or mutual mistake.
Brown v. Cnty of Genesee, 872 F.2d 169, 174 (6th
Cir. 1989). Cosper has not presented the court with any
evidence of fraud or mutual mistake which would invalidate
the parties' agreement. Accordingly, the court will
enforce the parties' settlement agreement and dismiss
this action, with prejudice.
United States' motion to enforce settlement agreement [R.
15] is GRANTED, and Cosper's claims
against the United States are DIS ...