Ferrill v. Union Pacific Railroad Company

Filing 67

ORDER ADOPTING in full the findings of fact and conclusions of law of 66 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION and denying 64 Plaintiff's attorneys' Motion to Enforce Settlement. Signed by Judge Mary H Murguia on 3/31/11. (LSP)

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Ferrill v. Union Pacific Railroad Company Doc. 67 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 WO IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA Joshua Ferrill, Plaintiff, vs. Union Pacific Railroad Company, 13 Defendant. 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CV 08-1828-PHX-MHM ORDER Currently before the Court is Magistrate Judge David Duncan's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), issued on February 22, 2011. (Doc. 66). Therein, Magistrate Judge Duncan recommends that Plaintiff's attorneys' Unopposed Motion to Enforce Settlement be denied. Neither Party has objected to the R&R. "Failure to object to a magistrate judge's recommendation waives all objections to the judge's findings of fact." Jones v. Wood, 207 F.3d 557, 562 n. 2 (9th Cir. 2000). A district court, however, must review the legal analysis in a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation de novo. See 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(C); but see United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114,1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (noting that failure to timely file objections to the magistrate judge's R&R may result in the acceptance of the Report and Recommendation by the district court without further review). I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND On May 26, 2010, this Court entered an Order denying Defendant's Motion for Dockets.Justia.com 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Summary Judgment. (Doc. 44). Thereafter, on August 9, 2010, the Parties engaged in a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge David Duncan. (Doc. 59). The conference resulted in settlement, and on September 15, 2010, the Parties filed their Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice. (Doc. 62). Accordingly, on September 22, 2010, this Court issued an Order for Dismissal, noting the fact of the settlement and dismissing the case with prejudice. (Doc. 63). On February 22, 2011, Plaintiff's attorneys filed the Unopposed Motion to Enforce Settlement. (Doc. 64). Therein, they informed this Court that Plaintiff had refused to endorse the settlement check, as was required of him, and could not be reached, and that Plaintiff's refusal to sign the check was stalling the final resolution of this case. Accordingly, Plaintiff's attorneys requested that this Court order Defendant to issue a new settlement check naming Plaintiff's attorneys as the sole payees. On February 14, 2011, this Court referred Plaintiff's attorneys' motion to Magistrate Judge Duncan. (Doc. 65). On February 22, 2011, Magistrate Judge Duncan issued the instant R&R, recommending that Plaintiff's attorneys' motion be denied. (Doc. 66). Magistrate Judge Duncan concluded that the Parties had not taken the necessary steps to preserve this Court's jurisdiction over the settlement and, as a result, the Court lacked jurisdiction to take any further action in this matter. II. DISCUSSION This Court agrees with, and adopts in full, the factual findings and legal reasoning of the R&R. As so eloquently explained therein, a court retains jurisdiction over postdismissal settlement issues only where the order of dismissal contains a provision expressly retaining the court's jurisdiction or where the court has incorporated the terms of the settlement into the order of dismissal. (R&R at 2 (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co of America, 511 U.S. 375 (1994)). Magistrate Judge Duncan correctly noted that the Court's September 22, 2010 dismissal Order contains no jurisdiction retaining provision and does not set forth the terms of the settlement. The Parties argue, however, that Magistrate Judge Duncan's August 9, 2010 minute entry, which states that a -2- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 settlement has been reached and notes that "the essential terms of the Settlement Agreement have been put forth on the record," incorporated the terms of the settlement by reference into this Court's Order of dismissal. (Doc. 59). The R&R rejected this argument, and this Court agrees with its analysis. The minute entry is not an order of dismissal, and only a district judge, not a magistrate judge, has the authority to delineate the terms of a dismissal order. Additionally, it is plainly wrong to suggest, as Plaintiff's attorney's have, that a minute order which does not actually contain the terms of the settlement could somehow silently incorporate those terms into a separate order of dismissal. Finally, although this Court was not in fact aware of the terms of the Parties' settlement agreement, it notes that a court's awareness and approval of the terms of a settlement does not incorporate those terms into the dismissal order. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 381 ("The judge's mere awareness and approval of the terms of the settlement agreement do not suffice to make them part of his order."). As Magistrate Judge Duncan explained, the steps that must be taken to preserve a court's jurisdiction after settlement and dismissal are clear and well known, and these Parties elected not to take those steps. This Court therefore no longer has jurisdiction over this case. Consequently, it finds, after de novo review, that Magistrate Judge Duncan's legal analysis and conclusions are correct, and that Plaintiff's attorneys' Unopposed Motion to Enforce Settlement must be denied. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED adopting in full the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the R&R. (Doc. 66). /// -3- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED denying Plaintiff's attorneys' Unopposed Motion to Enforce Settlement. (Doc. 64). DATED this 31st day of March, 2011. -4-

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