United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division
ROBERT H. WILSON, SUE ELLEN OBERG, AND PAULETTE BELL PLAINTIFFS
JAMES RICHARDSON DEFENDANT
BRAMLETTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause is before the Court on the plaintiffs' motion for
attorneys' fees and expenses (docket entry 22), to which
no response has been filed by the defendant. Having carefully
considered the motion, and having carefully considered the
arguments of plaintiffs' counsel and the applicable law,
the Court finds as follows:
settlement conference held on February 24, 2016, before
Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker, the parties agreed to
dismissal of this action on condition of payment by defendant
Richardson to plaintiffs in the amount of $25, 000 within 14
days from entry of the Order of Dismissal. The terms of the
Order of Dismissal (incorporating settlement agreement)
If any party fails to comply with the terms of this
settlement agreed to by all parties, any aggrieved party may
move to reopen the case for enforcement of the settlement
agreement, and if successful, all additional attorneys'
fees and costs from this date shall be awarded such aggrieved
party or parties against the party failing to comply with the
of Dismissal, p. 1. The Order also recites that “[t]he
Court specifically retains jurisdiction to enforce the
settlement agreement.” Order of Dismissal, p. 1.
law, which applies in this diversity action, strongly favors
“settlement of disputes by agreement of the parties
and, ordinarily, [the court] will enforce the agreement which
the parties have made, absent any fraud, mistake, or
overreaching.” Chantey Music Publishing, Inc. v.
Malaco, Inc., 915 So.2d 1052, 1055 (Miss. 2005).
Settlement agreements are enforced as a matter of contract
law and “[c]ourts will not rewrite them to satisfy the
desires of either party.” Id. at 1056.
Fifth Circuit has long held that “‘[c]ompromises
of disputed claims are favored by the courts.'”
Mid-South Towing Co. v. Har-Win, Inc., 733 F.2d 386,
391 (5th Cir. 1984)(quoting Cia Anon
Venezolana de Navegacion v. Harris, 374 F.2d 33, 35
(5th Cir. 1967)); see also Hastings v.
Guillot, 825 So.2d 20, 24 (Miss. 2002). “Federal
courts have held under a great variety of circumstances that
a settlement agreement once entered into cannot be repudiated
by either party and will be summarily enforced.”
Cia Anon, 374 F.2d at 35. Consistent with these
guiding principles under federal common law, “‘a
district court has inherent power to recognize, encourage,
and when necessary enforce settlement agreements reached by
the parties.'” Del Bosque v. AT&T Adver.,
L.P., 441 F. App'x 258, 260 (5th Cir.
2011)(quoting Bell v. Schexnayder, 36 F.3d 447, 449
(5th Cir. 1994)).
Court has previously found that a settlement agreement was
reached by the parties at the February 24, 2016, settlement
conference, and memorialized in the February 25, 2016, Order
is no legitimate dispute concerning defendant
Richardson's failure to pay the amounts due under the
settlement agreement. Because Richardson has breached the
agreement, the plaintiffs are entitled to enforcement of the
settlement agreement, and entitled to recover their counsel
fees and other costs and expenses incurred in enforcing the
terms of the settlement agreement. Federal courts have
inherent authority to award attorneys' fees. In re
Case, 937 F.2d 1014, 1023 (5th Cir.
1991)(citing Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32
their Memorandum Brief in support of their motion for
attorneys' fees and expenses, the plaintiffs set forth
the factors used to determine the reasonableness of
attorneys' fees (see Mississippi Rule of Professional
Conduct, 1.5), and address each of them as well as providing
case law and supporting documentation. In conclusion, the
plaintiffs request $5, 000.00 as a reasonable attorneys'
fee, $202.00 in costs, and post-judgment interest.
Court finds that the motion is well-taken, and the defendant
does not dispute the sums requested.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the plaintiffs' motion for
attorneys' fees and expenses (docket entry 22) is
ORDERED that the plaintiffs furnish the Court with a proposed
Judgment in the amount of $25, 000 for filing;
ORDERED that plaintiffs incorporate in the proposed Judgment
their reasonable attorneys' fees in the amount of $5,
000.00, plus expenses in the amount of $202.00, together with