This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Allstate Insurance Company, et al.,
Filed March 21, 2006
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Shane H. Anderson, Mackall, Crounse & Moore, PLC, 1400 AT&T Tower, 901 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondents)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Appellant challenges a judgment granting respondents’ motion to enforce the settlement of appellant’s action and dismissing the action. Because the finding that appellant’s attorney had authority to settle is not clearly erroneous, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant Patrick Enow Takuanyi brought this action against respondents Allstate Insurance Company and Deerbrook Insurance Company, insurers of the driver with whom appellant was riding when he was injured, and Allstate adjuster Mike Struebing. Following a mediation session, respondents’ attorney offered a settlement, which appellant’s attorney accepted two days later. Appellant then repudiated the settlement on the ground that his attorney had lacked authority to settle, and respondents moved to have the settlement enforced. Their motion was granted.
An appeal from a
decision on a motion to enforce a settlement agreement is reviewed under an
abuse of discretion standard. Johnson v. St. Paul Ins. Cos., 305 N.W.2d
571, 573 (
Authority to settle may be oral. Schumann v. Northtown Ins. Agency, Inc., 452 N.W.2d 482, 483 (Minn. App. 1990) (“[A] written agreement is not a prerequisite to the enforcement of a settlement.”). Oral authority need not be express. Austin Farm Ctr., Inc. v. Austin Grain Co., 418 N.W.2d 181, 185 (Minn. App. 1988) (“Oral settlements are recognized as binding without express authority [for the attorney to settle] under three other theories: implied authority, estoppel, and ratification.”).
Appellant testified that, on the last day the settlement offer was open, he went to his attorney’s office, where
I told him that I will not settle. So he began to argue with me. . . . because of all that pressure, confusion, I said, okay, you know, I am leaving your office, do what you want, you are the lawyer on this case because—you know, out of anger. So I went out. And that very same day I called and tell him, I hope you didn’t get any misunderstanding, that I will not settle this case, I want my case to go to trial so that the jury can decide.
But the testimony of three attorneys conflicted with appellant’s testimony. Respondents’ attorney testified that, on the last day the offer was open, “[appellant’s attorney] called me and said that [appellant] has accepted the offer.” Appellant’s attorney testified that: “[Appellant] was in my office on [that day], and he said, yes, we’ll take the agreement. And I called defense counsel and I accepted the agreement.” Appellant’s co-counsel’s testimony corroborated this: she testified that she had “nothing to add at this point, because both [appellant’s attorney] and myself were present in his office when all of this discussion and telephone calls were going on.” When the district court asked appellant’s attorney, “Did you get a call . . . from your client saying he didn’t want to do this [i.e., settle]?”, the attorney answered, “No, we accepted. He was in my office when I made the call. . . . He was right there when I called [respondents’ attorney], and I am glad that I had other counsel in this case, because it would have been my word against his.” Thus, the hearing transcript provides ample support for the district court’s implicit finding that appellant’s attorney had authority to accept the settlement agreement.
an attorney who has authority accepts a settlement agreement, courts will
enforce that settlement. See, e.g., Ghostley v. Hetland, 295