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Clark v. Corwin

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

March 30, 2018

LISA MARIE CLARK Appellant
v.
RUSSELL W. CORWIN, et al. Appellees

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. CV-2012-03-1723

          CARYN M. GROEDEL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          FRANK H. SCIALDONE, NEIL SARKAR and TERRY WILLIAMS, Attorneys at Law, for Appellees.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JULIE A. SCHAFER, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Plaintiff-Appellant, Lisa Clark appeals the order of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas denying her motion to enforce settlement agreement and request for sanctions. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I.

         {¶2} This is the second appeal in this matter. See Clark v. Corwin, 9th Dist. Summit Co. 27524, 2015-Ohio-4469. After remand from the first appeal, the parties agreed to mediate the matter and ultimately consented to a settlement. At the close of mediation, the parties signed a mediation status report identifying the terms to be included in a more formal document ("settlement term sheet"). However, after several months of back and forth the parties could not agree on the exact language to be used in the formal, written settlement agreement. Consequently, the parties filed competing motions to enforce the settlement agreement. The trial court held a hearing and thereafter granted Corwin's motion to enforce in an order filed November 7, 2016.

         {¶3} Clark filed this timely appeal, raising six assignments of error for our review. As Clark's first, second, and third assignments of error raise similar issues, we elect to address them together.

         II.

         Assignment of Error I

         The trial court erred in denying [Clark]'s motion to enforce the settlement term sheet and instead binding [Clark] to a contract for which she received no [consideration] and which contains terms to which she never agreed.

         Assignment of Error II

         The trial court erred by allowing [Corwin] to unilaterally add terms to a written memorialization beyond that to which the parties agreed.

         Assignment of Error III

         The trial court erred by binding [Clark] to a contract with people and entities she does not know, with whom she is not in privity, against whom she asserted no claims, and who are not parties to this lawsuit.

         {¶4} In her first, second and third assignment of error, Clark contends that the trial court erred when it denied her motion to enforce, erred by allowing Corwin to add terms to the agreement, and erred by binding her to a contract with parties with whom she was not in privity and against whom she did not assert any claims and were not parties to the lawsuit. We disagree.

         {¶5} "The standard of review to be applied to a ruling on a motion to enforce a settlement agreement depends primarily on the question presented." Tech. Constr. Specialties, Inc. v. New Era Builders, Inc., 9th Dist. Summit No. 25776, 2012-Ohio-1328, ¶ 18. This Court will not overturn a trial court's findings on an evidentiary question if there was sufficient evidence to support such finding. Id. citing Chirchiglia v. Bur. of Workers' Comp., 138 Ohio App.3d 676, 679 (7th Dist.2000). However, if the dispute is a question of law, this Court "must review the decision de novo to determine whether the trial court's decision to enforce the settlement agreement is based upon an erroneous standard or a misconstruction of the law." New Era Builders at ¶ 18, citing Continental W. Condominium Unit Owners Assn. v. Howard E. Ferguson, Inc., 74 Ohio St.3d 501, 502 (1995).

         {¶6} This matter involves Clark's claims against Corwin for tortious interference with contractual and business relationships. Prior to trial, the parties agreed to settle the matter and signed a settlement term sheet during mediation on March 23, 2016. The trial court found that the settlement term sheet provides as follows:

Settlement in gross su[m] of $250, 000 3 checks - with separate reporting to IRS: wages to Clark, one for non-economic compensatory damages to Clark, & 1 to CG&A for attorneys' fees for full and final release of claims and dismissal of claims in above case against defendants, with prejudice.
Plaintiff will dismiss this case with prejudice. Costs to Defendant Corwin.
1. (Defendant) to get 1st draft of the settlement agreement to (Plaintiff) w/in 1 week, (Plaintiff) to respond w/in 1 week, agreement to be finalized & signed within 30 days, & checks & fully executed settlement agreement within 21 days thereafter.
2.Full material release of claims.

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