United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
BRYAN T. SMITH, Plaintiff,
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND, Defendants.
W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bryan Smith brought this employment-discrimination suit in
October 2017 against Montgomery County, alleging his
supervisors in the Department of Transportation failed to
make reasonable accommodations for his cognitive impairments.
The County asserts that Mr. Smith, while represented by
counsel, accepted the terms of a settlement agreement in
spring 2018 but never signed the written agreement. The
County here seeks an order enforcing the agreement.
record supports the County's assertion that Mr. Smith
knowingly and voluntarily assented to the agreement.
Accordingly, I am granting the County's motion for
enforcement. A separate motion to seal various filings in
this case will be granted in part and denied in part.
Smith is an equipment operator for the Montgomery County
Department of Transportation ("DOT"). Am. Compl.
¶¶ 1, 29, ECF No. 11. He alleges that, since at
least 1993, he has suffered from a variety of cognitive
disorders that impair his ability to think and concentrate
and that cause him "to be easily frustrated and
overwhelmed"} Id. ¶¶ 4, 7.
October 2017, Mr. Smith filed a pro se complaint
against the County,  alleging that his supervisors in the
Department had not granted any of the requests he had made
for "reasonable accommodations"" over the
previous two years. Compl., ECF NO.1. Specifically, he
alleged they had either denied or failed to respond to his
various requests for permission to "take breaks to avoid
drift," break larger projects into smaller projects, use
a recording device to record meetings and work-related
conversation,, perform no more than a single task at once,
receive additional time to complete tasks, receive written
instructions, and enjoy a "modified work day."
Id. ¶ 7, 12. His suit sought to hold the County
liable for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990 ("ADA") and the Maryland Fair Employment
Practices Act ("MFEPA". Id. ¶¶
failing to participate in a pre-motion telephone conference
call this Court had scheduled to discuss the status of the
case, Mr. Smith retained counsel and filed an amended
complaint, asserting the same ADA and MFEPA claim as before.
See ECF Nos. 10, 11. In a March 2018 telephone
conference call, I authorized Mr. Smith's attorney, A.
Marques Pitre, to file a second amended complaint and I set a
briefing schedule for the County's proposed motion to
dismiss the case. See ECF No. 16.
those filings ever materialized. What happened, rather, was
that on April 12, 2018, the parties notified me they were
engaged in talks to settle the case. See ECF No. 17.
To allow those talks to proceed, I agreed to give Mr. Smith
additional time to further amend his complaint, extending the
deadline to May 7, 2018. See ECF No. 18.
deadline came and went. The next I heard from the parties was
on June 11, 2018, when the County notified me via letter that
it was planning to file a motion to enforce a settlement
agreement it said the parties had reached. See ECF
No. 19. The letter asserted that counsel for both parties had
"reached a complete settlement on April 24, 2018,"
and that Mr. Smith had approved its terms. Id. Mr.
Smith, though, had not signed the agreement, and while he had
not "explicitly" refused to do so, his attorney,
Mr. Pitre, was finding him uncommunicative. See Id.
Mr. Pitre soon withdrew from the case, explaining the
attorney-client relationship between himself and Mr. Smith
was "irretrievably broken." ECF No. 20.
County on July 2, 2018, filed a motion to enforce the
settlement agreement or, alternatively, to dismiss the
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 25. In support of its request to
enforce the agreement, the County enclosed copies of emails
the parties' counsel had exchanged between April 2018 and
June 2018. See Settlement Negotiation Emails, ECF
No. 25-4; Signature Emails, ECF No. 25-12.
emails show that in April 2018, the attorneys for both
parties were working to hash out a deal that would include
both a monetary offer as well as a promise to make certain
accommodations in Mr. Smith's workplace. See
Settlement Negotiation Emails. On April 23, 2018, Associate
County Attorney Justin Nunley wrote to Mr. Pitre:
[T]he County is willing to offer $5000 as full settlement of
all of Mr. Smith's claims (including attorneys' fees)
for disability discrimination under state and/or federal law
up to the present date. The County takes no position as to
what percentage of the $5000 will be applied to
attorneys' fees and what percentage Mr. Smith will
retain. That decision is entirely between you and Mr. Smith.
Please convey this monetary offer to Mr. Smith. I also look
forward to your update regarding Mr. Smith's training
requests so that 1 can keep working on those. 1 will continue
to work with you, DOT, OHR, and Mr. Smith to get those
requests ironed out. 1 view the accommodations requests as
separate from the monetary component of any settlement....
Id. at 8-9.
Pitre wrote back the next morning (April 24, 2018):
"Thank you for the monetary offer below[.] I have
communicated this offer to my client, and he will accept the
terms." Id. at 7. The email proceeded to
clarify that Mr. Smith wished to do more at work than merely
"drive the trucks," and that he would like
additional training to enable him to operate other types of
equipment See Id. "1 believe that would cover
all of our Reasonable Accommodation concerns, so when
you're ready to present a draft settlement agreement
covering all that we have discussed, I would be happy to
review and present to my client for signature," Mr.
Pitre wrote. Id. at 8.
Nunley responded on April 27, 2018, saying DOT had confirmed
it could provide the requested training. See Id. at
5. An April 30, 2018 email from Mr. Pitre replied: "That
is wonderful news! Looks like we'll have this wrapped up
shortly." Id. at 4.
Nunley emailed a "draft accommodations letter" to
Mr. Pitre the next day, asking him to "[p]lease review
[it] to make sure it accurately reflects our discussions, and
let me know if you approve." Id. at 1;
see Accommodations Letter, ECF No. 25-5. He soon
afterward drafted a release, which he sent to Mr. Pitre for
approval on May 9, 2018. See Release Emails 2, ECF
No. 25-6. Mr. Pitre returned it less than an hour later with
"some minor changes." Id. at 1. Mr.
Nunley, after accepting all of the edits and declaring the
release "finalized," id, sent a
"final" version of both the release and
accommodations letter to Mr. Pitre, asking him to provide
them to Mr. Smith for his signature and notarization, ECF No.
passed. On May 30, 2018, Mr. Nunley pressed Mr. Pitre to
"please let me know when you expect Mr. Smith will sign
the Release so that I can get the check out." Signature
Emails 6. "My understanding"" Mr. Nunley wrote
later that day in a follow-up email, "is that we had
reached an agreement and were just waiting on Mr. Smith's
signature for the Release." Id. at 4. Mr. Pitre
replied: "We indeed reached an agreement, however, I
have been unable to get my client to sign the Release."
Id. Two days later, on June 1, 2018, Mr. Pitre
wrote: "I got a call from Mr. Smith saying that he would
send the document today. If not, I'll be withdrawing from
the case in the morning." Id. at 2. After
further correspondence between the two attorneys, Mr. Pitre
confirmed on June 7, 2018: "We will be withdrawing from
Mr. Smith's case within the next couple of days.
... I'm really ...