United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on pro se plaintiff Vanessa
Sparks' motion to reopen this ease and enforce the
settlement agreement (Doc. 43) and defendant City of
Cincinnati's response in opposition (Doc. 45). The Court
held an evidentiary hearing on this matter on March 1, 2017.
background, the six plaintiffs in this action are residents
of the Mohawk area of West McMicken Avenue in the Over the
Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. (Doc. 12 at ¶
3). In their amended complaint, plaintiffs alleged that in
April 2014, defendant barricaded a section of West McMicken
Avenue in the Mohawk area for the stated purpose of curbing
prostitution on the street. (Id. at ¶ 5).
Plaintiffs alleged that these barricades limited access to
their homes, public transportation, and emergency services.
(See Id. at ¶¶ 7-12). They also alleged
that the Cincinnati Police Department ("CPD") was
intimidating and/or detaining visitors for "[m]erely
driving onto the street where plaintiffs live."
(Id. at ¶¶ 7, 15). Plaintiffs sought
compensatory damages and an injunction ordering removal of
the barricades. (See Id. at pages 5-6).
2015, the case was referred for judicial-based mediation.
(Doc. 28). Settlement conferences were held in July 2015 and
February 2016. (See dkt. entries dated Jul. 7, 2015,
Feb. 1, 2016, and Feb. 22, 2016). The case was reported as
settled on February 22, 2016. (See dkt. entry dated
Feb. 22, 2016). The next day, the Court dismissed the case
with prejudice but indicated the case could be reopened by
April 8, 2016 if the settlement was not consummated. (Doc.
40). In March 2016, the other plaintiffs moved for leave to
process and disburse the settlement proceeds without
plaintiff Sparks' endorsement. (Doc. 41). In their
motion, plaintiffs indicated that all plaintiffs, including
plaintiff Sparks, had signed the settlement agreement and
defendant had issued a check for the settlement proceeds
payable to all plaintiffs, but plaintiff Sparks refused to
endorse the check. (See Id. at 2-3). On April 7,
2016, the Court granted plaintiffs' motion and ordered
disbursement of the settlement proceeds. (Doc. 42).
Sparks filed the instant motion in September
2016. (Doc. 43). She asserts that defendant
violated the settlement agreement by failing to send notices,
mailings, updates, or correspondence concerning Over the
Rhine and its developments, meetings, projects, and plans.
response in opposition, defendant has submitted a copy of the
parties' settlement agreement. (Doc. 45-1). In pertinent
part, the agreement provides:
[Defendant] also agree[s] that a representative of the
Cincinnati Police Department will be a point of contact for
[plaintiffs] with respect to the policing strategies in the
area of West McMicken Avenue. Moreover, the Mohawk Area
Development Corporation,  and any successors, will be added to
any neighborhood and area notifications regarding policing
strategies and other neighborhood issues provided to other
(Id. at 2). Defendant argues that plaintiffs motion
should be denied because CPD has "added Mohawk Area
Development Corporation to neighborhood and area
notifications regarding policing strategies and other
neighborhood issues." (Doc. 45 at 2). Further, defendant
asserts that "[t]here have been no notices regarding
policing strategies to any community groups since February
evidentiary hearing, plaintiff Sparks argued that defendant
violated the settlement agreement by failing to provide
Mohawk Area Development Corporation with notice of meetings
held by defendant's Department of City Planning to
develop a Mohawk Area Plan. Plaintiff Sparks stated that she
only received information about defendant's efforts to
develop a Mohawk Area Plan when she contacted a staff member
of the Department of City Planning. Plaintiff asserted her
belief that defendant has intentionally and maliciously
sought to exclude the Mohawk Area Development Corporation
from the process to develop the Mohawk Area Plan. In support
of her contentions, plaintiff submitted two exhibits, which
were admitted into evidence.
Exhibit 1 is entitled "Mohawk Plan Draft Process and
Engagement Strategy" and outlines a series of meetings
related to the Mohawk Area Plan to be held between November
2016 and August 2017. (See Doc. 47-1 at 1).
Plaintiffs Exhibit 2 is entitled "Mohawk Area Plan"
and describes the process by which the plan will be developed
and the opportunities for community input. (See Id.
at 2-3). At the evidentiary hearing, plaintiff Sparks argued
these exhibits show that in violation of the settlement
agreement, defendant has held meetings about
"neighborhood issues" without providing the
required notice to the Mohawk Area Development
considered the parties' briefs, statements at the
evidentiary hearing, and exhibits, the Court concludes that
plaintiffs motion should be denied. The settlement agreement
resolved a dispute between the parties concerning a discrete
incident, i.e., CPD's erection of barricades in
plaintiffs' neighborhood in July 2014. In resolving that
dispute, the parties agreed that a representative of CPD
would be a point of contact for plaintiffs "with respect
to the policing strategies in the area of West
McMicken Avenue." (Doc. 45-1 at 2) (emphasis added). The
parties further agreed that the Mohawk Area Development
Corporation "will be added to any neighborhood and area
notifications regarding policing strategies and other
neighborhood issues provided to other community groups."
(Id.). Read in this context, the parties'
agreement to add the Mohawk Area Development Corporation
"to any neighborhood and area notifications" is
limited in scope to policing and public safety issues with
which CPD would have involvement. The agreement does not
obligate defendant to notify the Mohawk Area Development
Corporation whenever any other department of government
undertakes any action that affects or could affect the Mohawk
the settlement agreement requires notice to the Mohawk Area
Development Corporation only if it is also "provided to
other community groups." However, plaintiff Sparks has
not provided the Court with any evidence to suggest that
defendant sent a "neighborhood [or] area
notification!]" to any other community groups that was
not sent to the Mohawk Area Development Corporation.
(See Doc. 45-1 at 2).
and based on the foregoing, it is RECOMMENDED that plaintiff
Sparks' motion to reopen this case and enforce the