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Kaufman v. Young

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 21, 2017


         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-15-842421

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS Richard G. Johnson Richard G. Johnson Co. L.P.A.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Leon A. Weiss Adam M. Fried Martin T. Galvin Reminger & Reminger Co. L.P.A.

          BEFORE: Jones, J., E.A. Gallagher, P.J., and Kilbane, J.


          LARRY A. JONES, SR., JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendants-appellants Bradley Young and Laurel Young appeal several of the trial court's judgments in this case that (1) denied the Youngs' motion to enforce the settlement agreement; (2) granted the motion of plaintiff-appellee Josh Kaufman, Trustee of the Joyce Kaufman 2012 Irrevocable Trust ("Trust") to strike the Youngs' reply brief in support of the Youngs' motion to enforce the settlement agreement; (3) denied the Youngs' motion for reconsideration on the judgment striking their reply brief; and (4) denied as moot Josh's motions to quash subpoenas. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Procedural and Factual Background

         {¶2} The record establishes, as mentioned, that Josh was the Trustee of the subject Trust. Josh is one of Joyce's five children. Defendant Laurel Young is another one of Joyce's children, and was married to defendant Bradley Young.

         {¶3} In 2011, Laurel and Bradley executed and entered into a demand promissory note with Joyce in the principal amount of $3, 890, 000 together with interest at the rate per annum equal to the federal short-term rate. In 2012, Joyce assigned to Josh, as Trustee, all of her rights, title, and interest in the note.

         {¶4} In 2015, Josh, as Trustee, filed this action against the Youngs. At the time this action was filed, Joyce was deceased. Josh sought repayment of the principal amount of the note, plus interest, from the Youngs under theories of breach of contract and quantum merit.

         {¶5} In February 2016, the parties entered into a settlement agreement. The trial court retained jurisdiction to entertain any post-judgment motions. In March 2017, the Youngs filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. They also issued subpoenas to Phillip Babtiste, C.P.A. and Cohen & Co., Ltd., an accountant and accounting company, respectively, who provided services to the Trust. Josh opposed the Youngs' motion to enforce the settlement agreement, and the Youngs requested leave to file a reply brief to his opposition, which was granted instanter.

         {¶6} Josh then sought to strike the Youngs' reply brief, which the trial court granted. The Youngs sought reconsideration of the trial court's decision to strike their reply; the trial court denied their request for reconsideration. The trial court also denied the Youngs' motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Josh also filed a motion to quash the subpoenas issued to accountant Babtiste and Cohen & Co., which the trial court denied as moot.

         The Settlement Agreement

         {¶7} The general terms of the parties' settlement agreement, which were filed along with the February 2016 dismissal, substantively provided as follows:

The defendants, Laurel and Bradley Young, agree to pay plaintiff, Josh Kaufman, Trustee of [the] December 21, 2012 Irrevocable Joyce Kaufman Trust, the sum of $3, 250, 000.00, to be paid by certified check, on or before 4 pm on February 12, 2016.
The claims in this case, to-wit: CV15-842421 are hereby released upon payment, and the note will be marked satisfied and returned, on or before February 19, 2016.
Formal release containing customary terms to follow. The parties further agree that the payment and settlement contemplated herein will not be used or disclosed in pending or future litigation, except for purposes of enforcement of this particular settlement agreement.

         {¶8} The parties' fully executed settlement agreement and release provided in relevant part as follows:

WHEREAS, the Parties desire to settle and compromise fully and completely the claims and defenses raised in the Note Litigation on the following terms and conditions.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of their mutual covenants and undertakings herein, and for good and valuable consideration, the adequacy of which is hereby acknowledged upon payment, the parties agree as follows:
1) Settlement Payment. The Defendants, Laurel K. Young and Bradley R. Young, agree to pay Plaintiff, Josh S. Kaufman, Trustee of the Joyce S. Kaufman 2012 Irrevocable Trust U/T/A Dated 12/21/2012, for the benefit of the 2012 Trust, the sum of $3, 250, 000, to be paid by certified check * * * no later than 4:00 p.m. on February 12, 2016. * * *
2) Satisfaction of the Note. Upon payment with good funds, the Plaintiff will, by no later than February 19, 2016 at 4:00 p.m., deliver to the Defendants the original Note bearing language to the effect that the Note "is paid, satisfied and the obligation due thereunder is discharged."
* * *
5) Release of Defendants. Upon payment with good funds of the consideration referenced in Paragraph 1 herein, Plaintiff releases and discharges Defendants Laurel and Bradley Young, together with their agents, heirs, family members, legal representatives, successors, assigns, beneficiaries, executors, and trustees, from any and all obligations relating to the Note and the claims asserted in the Note Litigation, and hereby acknowledges that said Note obligation is satisfied in full.
6) Entire Agreement. This Agreement is the entire agreement between the Parties relating to the Note Litigation and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous written or oral negotiations, communications, and agreements relating to the Note Litigation.
* * *
13) Joint Preparation of Agreement. This Agreement shall not be construed against the Parties preparing it, but shall be construed as if it were prepared jointly by all persons and entities affected thereby, and any uncertainty or ambiguity, or both, ...

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