Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas No.
REVERSED AND REMANDED
D. Middleton, for appellants.
& Goldwasser, L.L.P., Andrew S. Goldwasser, and Sarah E.
Katz; Law Office of John J. O'Shea, P.L.C., and John J.
O'Shea, for appellees.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
A JONES, SR., J.
1} This case stems from an automobile accident that
occurred in 2013 when a Mack truck, driven by
defendant-appellee Spencer Pride ("Pride"),
collided with a car driven by plaintiff-appellant Kiley
Wilson. Wilson sustained injuries that required surgery on
both shoulders. The trial court enforced a settlement
agreement between the parties and this appeal followed.
Finding merit to the appeal, we reverse and remand the case
to the trial court.
History and Facts
2} In 2015, Wilson filed a complaint against Pride
and his employer, Ferris Process of Cleveland (collectively
referred to as "Pride"). Also named as plaintiffs
in the complaint were two minors who were riding in
Wilson's vehicle at the time of the accident and
Wilson's wife, Quavae Wilson ("Quavae" and the
plaintiffs are at times collectively referred to as
"Wilson"). Wilson dismissed his complaint but
refiled it in 2017 against the same parties. In his
complaint, Wilson alleged: (1) Pride was at fault for the
accident; (2) Pride's employer was responsible for
Pride's negligence; (3) Wilson incurred over $14, 000 in
medical expenses and would continue to incur expenses; (4)
each minor incurred $1, 162 in medical expenses; (5) Wilson
incurred property damage in the amount of $5, 35542 and car
rental expenses totaling $1, 057.84; and (6) a loss of
consortium claim on behalf of Quavae.
3} Trial for the case was set for Monday, September
10, 2018. Attorneys for the parties engaged in settlement
negotiations by phone the Thursday and Friday prior to trial,
September 6 and 7. Appellee's attorney claimed that the
parties did, in fact, reach a settlement agreement on
September 7, agreeing to settle the case for $25, 000.
Approximately 20 minutes after the parties allegedly agreed
on a $25, 000 settlement, appellee's attorney sent an
email to the court, copying appellant's attorney, to
inform the court that the parties had reached a settlement.
Upon receipt of the email, appellant's attorney phoned
the court, informing the court that the parties had not
reached a settlement.
4} Wilson subsequently filed a motion to vacate the
settlement. Pride responded with a motion to enforce the
settlement agreement. The settlement agreement was never
reduced to writing.
5} In his motion to vacate the settlement agreement,
Wilson stated that his attorney never agreed to the $25, 000
offer because there had not been a "complete agreement
as to the settlement for the children because
[appellant's] counsel never had any discussion with the
parents of the minor children regarding the settlement or
authority to settle their case." In the motion to
enforce, Pride argued that a settlement agreement had been
reached and Wilson should be bound by their oral agreement.
6} On September 10, the court issued a journal entry
stating that the parties had reached a settlement and ordered
the parties to file a dismissal entry within 30 days of the
entry. The court also scheduled a hearing on the parties'
competing motions for the next day, September 11.
7} The matter proceeded to a hearing on September
11. Appellee's attorney, Wilson, and the father of the
two minor plaintiffs testified under oath and were subject to
8} The following evidence was adduced at the
9} Appellee's attorney testified that he
contacted appellant's attorney on September 6, 2018, and
extended a settlement offer for $25, 000. Appellant's
attorney countered with a demand for $75, 000 to settle all
10} Later that day, appellee's attorney again
phoned appellant's attorney and told the attorney that he
(appellee's attorney) had spoken with the court's
staff attorney and discovered that the court ruled on several
pretrial motions in Pride's favor. Appellee's
attorney requested that counsel for the appellant take the
settlement offer back to his client, stating that the offer
might "no longer be on the table" if appellee had
to incur the cost of trial preparation.
11} Specifically, appellee's attorney testified
that he called appellant's counsel on the morning of
September 7 and
informed him that the $25, 000 settlement offer was still on
the table and we would appreciate it if he would get back to
us as soon as possible because we were in preparation for
trial and due to the costs that the company was going to
incur over the weekend, I would not -could not guarantee that
that money would still be available on [the day of trial].
12} Appellee's attorney testified that
appellant's attorney called him two hours later, around
12:30 p.m., and agreed to the $25, 000 settlement offer.
According to appellee's attorney, appellant's
attorney proposed that the settlement funds be apportioned as
follows: $21, 000 to Wilson and $2, 000 to each minor child.
Appellant's counsel then asked counsel for appellee about
the Medicaid lien -Wilson's injuries totaled over $40,
000 in medical bills, approximately $15, 000 of which
Medicaid paid the Cleveland Clinic. Appellee's attorney
I informed him [appellant's attorney] that I would need
to check with the company regarding how they wanted to handle
the Medicaid lien, because Medicaid paid certain medical
bills and that I would call him back regarding the Medicaid
lien after I spoke to [co-counsel] about how the company
wanted to handle that particular matter, and I also told him
that I would confirm in writing the settlement.
13} Appellee's counsel admitted appellant's
attorney asked for a return call regarding the Medicaid
issue, but did not think it warranted further discussion with
regard to the proposed settlement: "I considered it to
be how the company wanted to treat the Medicaid payment on
the settlement check."
14} On cross-examination, appellee's attorney
insisted that although appellant's attorney had asked for
a return call to discuss the Medicaid payment and he had not
made the return call, any discussion of the Medicaid payments
was not "a ...