Baldwin v. Four Seasons
ORDER granting 54 Motion to Enforce Settlement; granting 57 58 Motions to Withdraw as Attorney; denying as moot 23 Motion for Leave to File, 24 Motion for Summary Judgment and 27 Motion to Stay. Attorney Peter G. Kumpe and Marie Bernarde Miller terminated. Signed by Judge Kristine G. Baker on 05/08/2014. (rhm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
Case No. 4:12-cv-00357-KGB
SALINE RC OPERATIONS, LLC
d/b/a FOUR SEASONS RESIDENTIAL
CARE CENTER, MICHELE MOSELEY
On November 18, 2013, defendants filed a motion to enforce settlement agreement (Dkt.
No. 54). Plaintiff Sandra Baldwin has not responded. For the reasons that follow, the Court
grants defendants’ motion to enforce settlement agreement, and the Court hereby dismisses with
prejudice this action.
On October 10, 2013, Ms. Baldwin and defendants signed a “Confidential Agreement”
(the “Agreement”). James Hal Miller executed the Agreement as a witness to Ms. Baldwin’s
signature. Kimberly Mosely—mistakenly identified as “Michele” in this action—signed the
Agreement on behalf of Four Seasons as its Executive Director and in her individual capacity.
Specifically, the Agreement provides that, “to finally and fully settle all allegations, disputes and
claims raised by [Ms.] Baldwin against [defendants], . . . including without limitation those
claims or allegations made in” this action, “[b]y signing below, [Ms.] Baldwin (for herself, her
representatives, agents and heirs) waives and releases and promises never to assert in any forum
any and all claims that she has or might have, whether known or unknown, against [defendants] .
. . .” (Dkt. No. 54-1, at 1).
The Agreement also provides that:
[Ms.] Baldwin acknowledges that she has been provided with the opportunity to
consider whether to enter into the Agreement and to consult with an attorney, that
this Agreement is written in a manner calculated to be understood by [Ms.]
Baldwin and she has read and understands the contents of this Agreement, that no
representations other than those contained herein have been made to induce or
influence the execution of the Agreement, and that the Agreement is entered into
freely and voluntarily.
(Id. at 2).
In exchange for the settlement of all allegations, disputes, and claims, the Agreement
requires defendants to tender consideration of $800 by check to Ms. Baldwin (Id. at 1), which
they did (Dkt. No. 54-2). The check cleared the account of Kutak Rock LLP, defendants
counsel’s law firm, on October 22, 2013. Ms. Baldwin subsequently endorsed the check and
included an instruction to “pay to the order of Barber Law Firm” (Id.).
Federal courts apply state law to determine whether a settlement agreement was formed.
See Am. Prairie Constr. Co. v. Hoich, 594 F.3d 1015, 1023 (8th Cir. 2010) (applying South
Dakota law). “Settlement agreements are governed by basic principles of contract law.” MIF
Realty L.P. v. Rochester Assocs., 92 F.3d 752, 756 (8th Cir. 1996). The Agreement provides that
it is “governed by and will be construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Arkansas”
(Dkt. No. 54-1, at 2). Under Arkansas law, “[c]ourts will enforce contracts of settlement if they
are not in contravention of law.” DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Smelser, 289 S.W.3d 466, 470 (Ark.
2008). Arkansas law provides that the essential elements of a contract include: “(1) competent
parties, (2) subject matter, (3) legal consideration, (4) mutual agreement, and (5) mutual
obligations.” Williamson v. Sanofi Winthrop Pharm., Inc., 60 S.W.3d 428, 433-34 (Ark. 2001).
The Agreement meets each of the essential elements of a contract and thus is a valid
contract under Arkansas law. All parties are competent. The Agreement set forth the subject
matter: the settlement of Ms. Baldwin’s allegations, disputes, and claims. All parties, having
signed the Agreement, mutually agreed to its terms. All parties provided legal consideration and
are mutually obligated by the Agreement.
Pursuant to the Agreement, Ms. Baldwin is bound to release all allegations, disputes, and
claims as to defendants, including those made in this action. Accordingly, this action is hereby
dismissed with prejudice because (1) the Agreement is a valid contract under Arkansas law, (2)
all allegations and claims Ms. Baldwin made in this action were fully and finally settled under
the Agreement, and (3) defendants have performed their obligations under the Agreement by
tendering a check to Ms. Baldwin in the full amount required. Further, this Court retains
jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the Agreement after this action has been dismissed.
Given the nature of this Order, the Court denies as moot the defendants’ motion for leave
to file first amended answer to amended complaint (Dkt. No. 23) and motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 24), and Ms. Baldwin’s motion to stay (Dkt. No. 27). The Court grants
Williams & Anderson PLC’s motion to be relieved as counsel (Dkt. No. 57) and supplemental
motion to be relieved as counsel (Dkt. No. 58). Peter G. Kumpe and Marie Bernarde Miller are
terminated as counsels of record for Ms. Baldwin.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 8th day of May, 2014.
KRISTINE G. BAKER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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