United States District Court, D. Maryland
J&J SPORTS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
IVELA LOUNGE INC., et al.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution are Plaintiff's motions
for entry of consent judgment. (ECF Nos. 20 & 22). The
court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local
Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motions will be
denied without prejudice.
two-count complaint, filed on March 28, 2018, alleges that
Defendants Ivela Lounge, Inc. and Kaleb Wondmu Tadele,
improperly intercepted and broadcasted “Floyd
Mayweather, Jr. v. Andre Berto WBA/WBC Welterweight
Championship Fight Program” (“the
Program”) in violation of 47 U.S.C. §§ 605
& 553. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff, J&J Sports
Productions, Inc., owns the “exclusive nationwide
commercial distribution (closed-circuit) rights to” the
Program. (Id.). Plaintiff seeks statutory damages,
costs, and attorneys' fees. (Id.). Summonses
were delivered to both Defendants, but neither Defendant
filed a response. (ECF Nos. 7 & 8). Accordingly, the
court issued an order directing Plaintiff to “serve by
mail on . . . [D]efendant[s] a motion for entry of default by
the Clerk and a motion for default judgment, or provide a
report as to why such motions would be
inappropriate[.]” (ECF Nos. 9 & 10). Plaintiff
filed a status report, indicating that, on August 15, 2018,
“Plaintiff's counsel was contacted by an attorney
on behalf of Defendants” and that the parties were in
settlement negotiations. (ECF No. 11). No. counsel entered an
appearance on Defendants' behalf. Plaintiff's counsel
notified the court on October 24, 2018, that the parties
reached a settlement on October 9, 2018. (ECF No. 13). The
court entered an order pursuant to Local Rule 111 dismissing
the case without prejudice on October 24, 2018. (ECF No. 14).
Local Rule 111 provides:
the Court has been notified by counsel that a case has been
settled, the Court may enter an order dismissing the case and
providing for the payment of costs. Such an order of
dismissal shall be without prejudice to the right of a party
to move for good cause to reopen the case within a time set
by the Court if the settlement is not consummated.
Alternatively, the Court, upon being notified by counsel that
a case has been settled, may require counsel to submit within
sixty (60) days a proposed order providing for settlement, in
default of which the Court may enter such judgment or other
order as may be deemed appropriate. An order entered pursuant
to this Rule means that the entire case, including all
claims, counter-claims, cross-claims, third-party claims, and
claims for attorneys' fees and costs has been settled,
unless otherwise stated in the order.
order recited: “the dismissal will become a dismissal
with prejudice on December 30, 2018, unless Plaintiff files a
motion to reopen on or before December 30, 2018.” (ECF
No. 16). On December 27, 2018, Plaintiff notified the court
that the settlement was not consummated and requested to
reopen the case. (ECF No. 17).
these circumstances the case resumes the procedural posture
it was in immediately prior to the entry of the settlement
order, namely awaiting a motion for entry of default. Instead
of proceeding that way, Plaintiff filed a motion for entry of
consent judgment on February 26, 2019. (ECF No. 20).
Plaintiff's motion is, in reality, a motion to enforce
settlement agreement. A notice was entered on April 11, 2019,
directing Plaintiff to “brief . . . why you believe
that a consent judgment - never before filed with the court
or pursuant to court order - should be entered under the
circumstances.” (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff filed a
supplemental motion, without legal support, on April 17,
2019. (ECF No. 22).
to that motion is the purported settlement agreement, signed
by Plaintiff's counsel, Richard Kind, Plaintiff J&J
Sports Productions, Inc.'s president Joseph Gagliardi,
and Defendant Kaleb Wondmu Tadele, individually and on behalf
of Defendant Ivela Lounge, Inc. (ECF No. 22-3, at 3).
Plaintiff argues that consent judgment is proper because
“all Defendants were properly served[, ]”
“Defendants entered into a settlement agreement with
Plaintiff[, ]” and “Defendants defaulted under
the terms of the settlement agreement[.]” (ECF No. 22,
court does not have the authority to enforce a settlement
agreement that has not been incorporated into a court order,
absent some independent basis for federal jurisdiction:
As the United States Supreme Court has recognized, the
enforcement of a contractual settlement agreement “is
more than just a continuation or renewal of the dismissed
suit.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 378 (1994). “If the obligation
to comply with the terms of the agreement is not made part of
an order of the court, jurisdiction to enforce the settlement
agreement will not exist absent some independent basis of
jurisdiction.” Smyth ex. rel. Smyth v. Rivero,
282 F.3d 268, 281 (4thCir. 2002). This Court
neither expressly maintained jurisdiction to enforce the
parties' settlement agreement nor incorporated the terms
of the settlement agreement in its July 9, 2002 Order. In
addition, there appears to be no independent basis for
federal jurisdiction over this contract dispute. Enforcement
of a settlement agreement is essentially an action for breach
of contract, which is governed by state and not federal law.
Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. v. Ashleigh Heights
LLC, 261 F.Supp.2d 332, 333 (D.Md. 2002). “The
judge's mere awareness and approval of the terms of the
settlement agreement do not suffice to make them part of his
order.” Kokkonen, 511 U.S. At 381 (1994). The
record clearly shows that the settlement agreement was not
incorporated into the Rule 111 dismissal order because the
settlement agreement was not placed in the record until the
case was reopened. Moreover, no independent basis for federal
jurisdiction to enforce the parties' settlement agreement
exists. Consequently, the court has no jurisdiction to
enforce the agreement.
other hand, in an ongoing case:
District courts “have inherent authority, deriving from
their equity power, to enforce settlement agreements.”
Hensley v. Alcon Labs., Inc., 277 F.3d 535, 540
(4th Cir. 2002). To enforce an agreement, a court
must first conclude “that a complete agreement has been
reached and determine the terms and conditions of that
agreement.” Id. If the court finds those
preconditions satisfied, it may reach the merits and
“draw upon standard contract principles” in
enforcing the agreement. Id. at 540-41; Bradley
v. Am. Household, Inc., 378 F.3d 373, 380
(4th Cir. 2004).
Scott v. Clarke, 355 F.Supp.3d 472, 477 (W.D.Va.
Defendants have not appeared in the underlying action, and
the attorney purportedly representing the corporation during
settlement negotiations did not sign the purported settlement
agreement. Plaintiff has options as to how to proceed.
Plaintiff may attempt to establish Defendants' default,
and then seek to enforce the settlement agreement by filing a
properly supported motion. Alternatively, Plaintiff may file
an action in state court for breach of contract. See
Fairfax Countywide Citizens Ass'n v. Fairfax Cnty.,
Va., 571 F.2d 1299, 1303 n.9, 1305 (4th Cir.
1978) (claim of breach of settlement agreement “is
factually and legally distinct from the claim giving rise to
the original ...