Debra Foster v. City of Chicago School Distric, et al
Filed Nonprecedential Disposition PER CURIAM. AFFIRMED. Richard A. Posner, Circuit Judge; Diane S. Sykes, Circuit Judge and David F. Hamilton, Circuit Judge. [6829507-1]  [16-1885]
To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1
United States Court of Appeals
For the Seventh Circuit
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Submitted March 27, 2017*
Decided March 29, 2017
RICHARD A. POSNER, Circuit Judge
DIANE S. SYKES, Circuit Judge
DAVID F. HAMILTON, Circuit Judge
DEBRA A. FOSTER,
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF
THE CITY OF CHICAGO and
AMANDLA CHARTER SCHOOL,
Appeal from the
United States District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois,
No. 13 C 3427
Matthew F. Kennelly,
O R D E R
Debra Foster appeals from the district court’s order granting the defendants’
motion to enforce a settlement agreement in her action under the Individuals with
* We have agreed to decide the case without oral argument because the briefs and
record adequately present the facts and legal arguments, and oral argument would not
significantly aid the court. See FED. R. APP. P. 34(a)(2)(C).
Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400–1418; the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 794; and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We affirm.
We previously summarized the factual background of this matter in Foster v.
Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 611 F. App’x 874 (7th Cir. 2015), and we assume
familiarity with that decision. Briefly, Foster sued the Board of Education of the City of
Chicago and Amandla Charter School, her daughter’s former middle school, after an
IDEA hearing officer determined that the school “substantially impeded” her
daughter’s right to a “free appropriate public education” and ordered the school to
provide additional services. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to
dismiss. Foster, the court explained, could not litigate her daughter’s claims without a
lawyer, and her complaint did not state a claim under the Rehabilitation Act (because
she did not allege discrimination based on any disability), § 1983 (because she did not
allege that any policy or custom of the defendants had harmed her), or the IDEA
(because she was not “aggrieved” by the hearing officer’s decision). And to the extent
Foster sought punitive damages under the IDEA, the court added, that relief was
unavailable as well. We upheld the dismissal of her daughter’s claims but concluded
that Foster could proceed on her own IDEA claim and request relief not ordered by the
hearing officer, including reimbursement for out‐of‐pocket expenses. Foster did not
challenge the dismissal of her § 1983 and Rehabilitation Act claims, so we affirmed the
judgment on those claims.
On remand Foster, assisted by court‐recruited counsel, entered into settlement
negotiations with the defendants. Magistrate Judge Valdez conducted a settlement
conference, at the end of which the parties completed a “settlement checklist/term
sheet.” The checklist specified that the defendants would pay a sum of $8,100 to Foster
and, in exchange, she would release all of her claims against them. One week after the
settlement agreement was reached, Foster—without the assistance of settlement
counsel—asked the court to clarify the settlement’s scope because she believed that she
had settled only her IDEA claim for out‐of‐pocket expenses and not her § 1983 claim
(Foster seemed unaware that this claim already had been dismissed). The defendants
argued that the only claim before the district court on remand was Foster’s personal
IDEA claim and that the settlement checklist encompassing that claim should be
An evidentiary hearing followed. Candace Moore, Foster’s settlement counsel,
testified that once the parties orally reached an agreement, she and Foster reviewed the
terms, and Foster decided to leave before the settlement checklist was filled out.
According to Moore, Foster authorized her to sign the checklist, which Moore did. But
Foster testified that she never told Moore to sign off on her behalf. Foster maintained
that she had other unsettled claims under both the IDEA (including for punitive
damages) and § 1983. The defendants responded that the settlement covered her entire
IDEA claim, that she had no § 1983 claim left because it had been dismissed with
prejudice, and that the settlement checklist itself reflected a binding agreement.
The district judge, adopting the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation,
granted the defendants’ motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Foster had reached
a settlement of her sole remaining claim, the judge explained. Only Foster’s IDEA claim
for her out‐of‐pocket expenses remained, the judge said, because her other claims had
been dismissed with prejudice—a decision that Foster never challenged and that we
upheld. And for the IDEA claim, Foster had admitted at the hearing that she orally
settled it, even before her attorney signed the checklist on her behalf. Because the
settlement covered all of Foster’s remaining claims, the district judge dismissed them
with prejudice, denied Foster’s pending motions, and entered final judgment.
Foster then sought postjudgment relief under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure based on the district court’s “fraud” in ignoring her § 1983 claim and
enforcing the settlement. The district judge denied the motion, concluding that she was
trying either to reargue meritless points on which it already had ruled against her or to
assert new arguments that she could have raised earlier.
On appeal Foster challenges the district court’s decision to enforce the settlement
and maintains that the court overlooked claims she had pending under § 1983 and the
IDEA (specifically, her claim for punitive damages). But the district court had dismissed
these claims with prejudice, Foster, 611 F. App’x at 879 (remanding Foster’s own IDEA
claim only), and that dismissal barred her from relitigating these claims, see Anderson v.
Catholic Bishop of Chi., 759 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2014).
Foster also continues generally to challenge the district court’s determination
that she had agreed to a settlement for her lone remaining claim under the IDEA. The
district court, however, appropriately concluded that Foster settled that claim. Under
Illinois law a settlement requires an offer, acceptance, and agreement regarding all
material terms. Beverly v. Abbott Labs., 817 F.3d 328, 333 (7th Cir. 2016); Elustra v. Mineo,
595 F.3d 699, 708 (7th Cir. 2010). The district court properly concluded that based on
objective evidence that included her own testimony, Foster orally had agreed to settle
her IDEA claim. Even if she believed that she had other claims she could bring against
the defendants, Foster’s subjective intent is irrelevant as long as her objective conduct
reflected an intent to be bound by the agreement. See Citadel Grp. Ltd. v. Wash. Reg’l Med.
Ctr., 692 F.3d 580, 588 (7th Cir. 2012). And here, Foster orally agreed to the settlement
terms, which were recorded in the settlement checklist that her attorney permissibly
signed after she left the conference early; the settlement checklist thus memorialized the
earlier valid oral agreement, and the district court did not act unreasonably in enforcing
Finally, Foster asserts without elaboration that the district court wrongly denied
her Rule 60(b) motion, but she gives us no reason to upset the court’s determination and
we will not craft arguments on her behalf. See FED. R. APP. P. 28(a)(8); Anderson v.
Hardman, 241 F.3d 544, 545 (7th Cir. 2001).
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