There is a tendency at settlement conferences, mediations, and other informal conclusions to legal disputes to rush out the door and move on to more pressing aspects of business and life, often leaving the “loose ends” or “details” to a later date, a date that slips, slips again, and sometimes even disappears for good.
Applied Equipment Company (“Applied”) thought it had settled its dispute with AEC in 2001, with whom Applied had a sales rep agreement. Counsel for the parties even made a statement in open court, after a settlement conference, that they had reached a settlement and, apparently, they put the material terms of the settlement “on the record.” Unfortunately for Applied, “on the record” here meant “not on the record” because there is no existing recording or transcript of this agreement.
Defendant AEC never paid agreed upon amounts and raised defenses of statute of limitation and statute of frauds (requiring a writing to enforce contracts that call for perfomance over more than one year) when Applied finally brought suit on the breached settlement agreement. AEC was not entirely successful but was partially successful and, due to the passage of time, Applied appears to have lost its claim to a $30,000 lump sump payment, agreed to but never made.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle, Sr. (D. Minn.) has ordered that the case be “trial ready” for June 1 on Applied’s surviving breach of contract claim and AEC’s counterclaims.