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Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Order on $40,000+ Settlement Agreement, Despite Defendants’ Attempts to Avoid Judgment

cattle in field

There are several familiar expressions warning against a premature assumption as to the outcome of an event. “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” It’s all sound advice.

But what happens if, after the fat lady has sung, the chickens have all hatched, and it’s clearly over, the opposing party refuses to accept the outcome? If the event in question happens to be a Massachusetts car accident lawsuit, the successful litigant may have to seek additional help from the court in order to collect what is due him or her via a judgment – or, as happened in a recent case, even a settlement.

Facts of the Case

In an unreported appellate case, the plaintiff was a woman who was hurt in a motor vehicle accident that occurred when her car struck two cows that “wandered off” from the defendants’ farm. She filed suit against the defendant farm owners, seeking compensation for her injuries (her husband joined in the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff). After the complaint was filed, the parties participated in a mediation effort and signed a settlement agreement. However, the defendants failed to perform their obligations under the agreement.

Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion requesting that the trial court enforce the settlement. The defendants were notified of the proceedings but did not attend. The trial court entered an order formally adopting the agreement, thereby granting the plaintiff a judgment, jointly and severally, for $40,000 plus attorney fees and costs. The defendants appealed, seeking relief from the order.

Decision of the Court

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the lower court’s decision. According to the court, the agreement in question set forth the required payment and payment schedule. The fact that the agreement required the defendants to finalize a court judgment against an unrelated party and then allowed the plaintiff to pursue collection of $40,000 from that unrelated party did not create an indefiniteness that rendered the agreement unenforceable. Contrary to the defendants’ argument on appeal, it was not “illogical” to allow both sides to pursue collection of the source of money to pay the judgment.

The court also rejected the defendants’ contention that the fact that one of the defendants was not present at the mediation and did not sign the agreement excused the other defendant from performing the agreement or that the defendants’ due process rights were violated by the lower court’s actions.

Call an Attorney for Advice About Your Case

Motor vehicle accidents can occur in many ways. While the “typical” case involves the driver of one car suing the driver of a second automobile, this is not always the case. Sometimes, other factors – such as loose farm animals, as happened in the case discussed above – can cause an accident. The fact that there is not another vehicle involved does not necessarily preclude a monetary settlement in a car accident case. To talk to an experienced Cape Cod motor vehicle accident attorney, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, today at 888-262-6664.

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