Chavez v. Stellar Recovery, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by District Judge William P. Johnson GRANTING 15 Plaintiff's Motion to Enforce Settlement. (mag)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
Case No. 1:16-cv-00558-WJ-KK
Stellar Recovery, Inc.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT
THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon Plaintiff’s Motion to Enforce Settlement,
filed January 12, 2017 (Doc. 15).
Having reviewed the parties’ briefs and applicable law, the
Court finds that Plaintiff’s motion is well-taken and, therefore, is granted.
This case was a putative class action against Stellar Recovery, Inc., (“Defendant”) suing
for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,15 U.S.C. §1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”), in
connection with Plaintiff’s receipt of a collection letter from Defendant in December 2015.
Plaintiff contended that Defendant misled her as to the identity of the creditor to whom the debt
was owed. Defendant admitted to sending the letter, but denies that any of the language in the
letter was misleading or confusing, or that it violated any provision of the FDCPA.
Parties settled this case in September 2016, see Doc. 11 (Notice of Settlement), and
sought additional time in which to file the dismissal papers, which were due on December 26,
2016. See Doc. 14.
Under the written settlement agreement, Defendant is required to pay
Plaintiff a total of $15,000.00 over installments from November 5, 2016 to December 5, 2016.
On January 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed this motion to enforce the agreement. According to
Plaintiff, Defendant paid the first installment of $7,500.00 in November 2016 but has failed to
pay the other $7,500.00 installment which was due on the fifth of December. Multiple efforts by
Plaintiff’s counsel to contact Defendant’s counsel in December 2016 and January 2017 were
unsuccessful and went unreturned.
Defendant has not responded to Plaintiff’s motion, and
Plaintiff filed a Notice that briefing was complete on July 26, 2017 (Doc. 16).
A trial court has the power to summarily enforce a settlement agreement entered into by
the litigants while the litigation is pending before it. A trial court has the power to summarily
enforce a settlement agreement entered into by the litigants while the litigation is pending before
it.” United States v. Hardage, 982 F.2d 1491, 1496 (10th Cir.1993). Issues involving the
enforceability of a settlement agreement are resolved by applying state law. See United States v.
McCall, 235 F.3d 1211, 1215 (10th Cir.2000); Shoels v. Klebold, 375 F.3d 1054, 1060 (10th Cir.
2004) (“Issues involving the formation and construction of a purported settlement agreement are
resolved by applying state contract law.”).
In New Mexico, “[p]ublic policy encourages settlement agreements, and the courts have a
duty to enforce them.” Envtl. Control, Inc. v. City of Santa Fe, 2002-NMCA-003, 131 N.M. 450
New Mexico courts begin the analysis on enforcement of a settlement
agreement “by recognizing and enforcing the strong policy of favoring settlement agreements.”
Builders Contract Interiors, Inc. v. Hi-Lo Indus., Inc., 139 N.M. 508, 2006-NMCA-053.
Plaintiff has attached as an exhibit a copy of the settlement agreement at issue, which
appears to support the facts and representations made in the motion. Because Defendant has not
responded to the motion, there are no facts in dispute and therefore no hearing is necessary.
Cmp. U.S. v. Hardage, 982 F.2d at 1496 (where material facts concerning the existence or terms
of an agreement to settle are in dispute, the parties must be allowed an evidentiary hearing).
Further, Defendant’s failure to respond provides a basis for granting Plaintiff’s motion. See
D.N.M.LR-Civ.7.1(b) (“the failure of a party to file and serve a response in opposition to a
motion within the time prescribed for doing so constitutes consent to grant the motion.”).
Courts “look favorably when parties resolve their disputes, and as a result, hold such
agreements in high regard and require a compelling basis to set them aside.” Builders Contract
Interiors, 139 N.M. 508, 511, 2006-NMCA-053, ¶ 7 (N.M.App.,2006). In this case, Plaintiff’s
request for an Order enforcing the settlement agreement seems reasonable enough, and
Defendant—not having responded at all to the motion—has not provided the Court with any
reason to set it aside. For these reasons, Plaintiff’s motion is therefore GRANTED.
Finally, a Judgment shall be entered separately which includes a provision for postjudgment interest. See 28 U.S.C. §1961(a) (allowing interest “on any money judgment in a civil
case recovered in a district court”).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?