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Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Carter

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

September 8, 2017

REED ELSEVIER, INC. Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
JULIUS L. CARTER, et al. Defendants-Appellants

         T.C. NO. 15-CV-3367 (Civil Appeal from Common Pleas Court)

          ANDREW C. STORAR, Atty. Reg. No. 0018802 and MICHAEL W. SANDNER, Atty. Reg. No. 0064107 and MICHELLE T. SUNDGAARD, Atty. Reg. No. 0096006, 2700 Kettering Tower, Dayton, Ohio 45423 Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee

          JULIUS L. CARTER, Atty. Reg. No. 0084170, 130 W. Second Street, Suite 1622, Dayton, Ohio 45402 Attorney for Defendants-Appellants

          OPINION

          FROELICH, J.

         {¶ 1} Julius L. Carter, Company, LPA ("the law firm") appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which dismissed the action of Reed Elsevier (dba LexisNexis) against the law firm and Julius Carter, individually, after the law firm paid an agreed-upon settlement amount. The law firm claims that the settlement agreement, which the trial court required Carter to sign on behalf of the law firm, did not accurately reflect the orally-stated settlement between the parties, and that the trial court erred in requiring Carter to sign Reed Elsevier's written settlement agreement. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment will be affirmed.

         {¶ 2} In the summer of 2015, Reed Elsevier brought suit against Carter and the law firm for breach of contract and declaratory judgment, alleging that Carter and the law firm had breached their Subscription Agreements for online LexisNexis research services. Reed Elsevier sought $5, 585.69 in unpaid fees.

         {¶ 3} The law firm and Carter filed answers, both denying the allegations and raising a counterclaim against Reed Elsevier for breach of contract. Carter subsequently filed an amended answer and counterclaim for common law fraud against Reed Elsevier, as well as two additional new parties, LexisNexis and Patricia Moneagle (who appears to be a LexisNexis employee). Upon motion by Reed Elsevier, Carter's amended answer was struck, and the previously-filed counterclaim by Carter and the law firm were stayed in light of an arbitration provision in the Subscription Agreement. Reed Elsevier's claims against Carter and the law firm were not stayed, however, because claims for nonpayment were exempted from the arbitration provision.

         {¶ 4} The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on Reed Elsevier's breach of contract claims. The trial court overruled each of the motions.

         {¶ 5} On May 12, 2016, the parties appeared for trial, but they informed the court that they had reached a settlement. The parties described the settlement as follows:

MR. SANDNER [attorney for Reed Elsevier]: Thank you, Your Honor. My understanding is we're going to receive a check for $3, 000 from Julius L. Carter Co., LPA. We will have a mutual settlement agreement, which there's no admission of liability[, ] that indicates once those funds are received, the lawsuit claims, counterclaims, will all be dismissed with prejudice to refiling. And I think I've covered all of the components.
THE COURT: And the check, Julius, you're going to write the check for $3, 000 from your -- from the LPA and then it will be a dismissal, which will dismiss the lawsuit against you personally and the LPA?
MR. CARTER: But [it] was my understanding, Your Honor, that there would be a dismissal with respect to me personally, and a settlement with just the LPA. Am I incorrect in that?
MR. SANDNER: We are fine that the settlement agreement just be ...

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