United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
David Copperthite, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter was referred to me on May 16, 2017 for settlement (ECF
24). A settlement conference was held on September 7, 2017.
At the settlement conference. Plaintiff was represented by
appointed pro bono counsel (ECF 31). The parties
reached a full settlement of all claims and the Court issued
an Order dismissing the case (ECF 33) on the same date. On
October 6, 2017, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Court which
was properly construed as a motion to reopen the settlement
agreement (ECF 34). Plaintiff filed the motion on her own
behalf, having counsel appointed for settlement only. This
matter, having previously been referred to me for settlement,
was referred to determine whether there was a basis to reopen
the settlement agreement and to provide a Report and
Recommendation on two issues raised (1) whether the court
should allow Plaintiff to withdraw the settlement agreement,
and (2) whether to grant pro bono counsel's
request, which was joined by the Plaintiff, to strike his
appearance. A hearing was held on November 8, 2017 with the
Plaintiff, her pro bono counsel and Defendant's
counsel present. I incorporate the evidence presented at the
hearing in support of this Report and Recommendation.
Basis for Plaintiffs Claim
Plaintiff, Ms. Faith Williams, served as a geriatric nurse
aide for Manor Care -Dulaney MD, LLC. Plaintiff, an African
American, alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act. alleging that a group of "Africans" were
allowed to refuse to help her with her patient care (ECF 1).
Defendant Manor Care tiled an Answer denying any liability
and challenging the legal sufficiency of the claim on
multiple grounds (ECF 18). The case was referred to me for
settlement and as stated above, counsel was appointed pro
bono for purposes of the settlement.
September 7. 2017, I met with the parties for settlement.
Initially I explained the purpose of the settlement
conference and the procedures we would follow. Mr. Burkhouse,
appointed counsel for Ms. Williams, had an opportunity to
speak with her prior to the settlement conference and was
given an opportunity to speak with her both in my presence as
well as outside of my presence during the settlement
conference. Mr. Burkhouse advised her of his evaluation of
her complaint and the various challenges she would face in
proceeding to trial, including the costs for an expert
witness, the costs of conducting discovery and the challenge
of responding to dispositive motions at the conclusion of
discovery. There were several back and forth sessions that I
conducted with each side, and my notes reflect that 1 met
with each side four times before the written settlement
agreement (Court's Exh. 1 under seal to the
Motions 1 Hearing) was reached.
of Fact and Recommendations
Motions Hearing on November 8, 2017 and after allowing both
Plaintiff and her counsel to be heard, as well as
Defendant's counsel who opposed Plaintiffs motion to
reopen the settlement, 1 made several findings of fact that I
adopt here in this Report and Recommendation.
I. At the time of settlement, a complete settlement was
reached as outlined in Court's Exhibit 1.
2. Plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily executed the
settlement agreement with the advice of counsel.
3. Plaintiff was fully and completely aware of the terms of
the settlement and had full opportunity to accept or reject
any of the terms and decided to accept them.
4. The settlement was conducted with full and fair bargaining
by each side, and with each side represented by competent
5. The Plaintiff has failed to show any cause, much less good
cause, to set aside a full and fair settlement, entered into
in good faith and accepted by her and her counsel.
6. I find there is no basis for her allegations with respect
to representation by her counsel. Her counsel fully realized
the value of her claim, and provided Plaintiff with his
analysis. These are issues of which Plaintiff complains and