For nearly four years, parties battled in federal court over whether the plaintiff was entitled to unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys fees and costs from the defendants.
Then, in early December 2014, Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC entered the case as the new attorneys for the defendants. In less than two months, firm partner, Peter Famighetti, was able to overcome the divide that separated the parties in settlement discussions. The plaintiff’s attorney represented to Famighetti that the proposed terms were acceptable and that the case was settled.
On consent of the plaintiff’s lawyer, Famighetti advised the Court that the parties had reached a settlement in principal, finalized the settlement agreement, and that the parties would be executing the written agreement within weeks. The next day, the Court closed the case.
Days later, however, the plaintiff met with his attorney to sign the agreement. According to his lawyer’s statements to the Court, the plaintiff told his lawyer that he refused to sign the agreement because he thought his lawyer’s fees would be paid by the defendants, which was not the agreement. His lawyer then asked the Court to re-open the case, but Famighetti cross-moved to enforce the settlement.
On March 17, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur D. Spatt granted Famighetti’s motion to enforce the settlement and denied the plaintiff’s motion to re-open the case. Judge Spatt reviewed the relevant case law, applied the facts presented, and found that the settlement agreement was enforceable as a “type I preliminary agreement”, meaning it was an enforceable agreement. Judge Spatt further noted that the plaintiff’s attorney had apparent authority to settle the case and Famighetti had no reason to doubt that authority, so the settlement would be enforced and the case would remain closed. Finally, Judge Spatt held that the plaintiff did not need to be compelled to sign the written agreement for him to be bound by it.