This opinion will be unpublished and may not be cited except as provided by Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994). STATE OF MINNESOTA IN COURT OF APPEALS C2-96-628 Messerli & Kramer, P.A., Respondent, vs. Ronald Levandoski, defendant and third-party plaintiff, Appellant, vs. Anthony Eggink, third-party defendant, Respondent, Frank Farrell, third-party defendant, Respondent. Filed August 13, 1996 Reversed Parker, Judge Hennepin County District Court File No. 957890 John G. Westrick, Westrick & McDowall-Nix, P.L.L.P., 400 Minnesota Building, 46 East Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant) John J. McDonald Jr., Thomas H. Crouch, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., 4200 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondents Messerli & Kramer and Frank Farrell) Bryon G. Ascheman, Geraghty, O'Loughlin & Kenney, P.A., 1400 Capital Centre Plaza, 386 North Wabasha Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent Eggink) Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Foley, Judge.* U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N PARKER, Judge Appellant Dr. Ronald Levandoski challenges a district court grant of summary judgment in favor of respondents Messerli & Kramer and attorney Frank Farrell. Concluding that Levandoski was bound by the terms of a purported settlement agreement, the trial judge determined that there were no genuine issues of material fact as to Levandoski's acquiescence to terms of the agreement or the validity of the document. We reverse. D E C I S I O N Summary judgment shall be rendered if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. Summary judgment is inappropriate if reasonable people could draw different factual conclusions from the evidence presented. Illinois Farmers Ins. Co. v. Tapemark Co., 273 N.W.2d 630, 633 (Minn. 1978). On appeal from summary judgment, we ask "whether there are any genuine issues of material fact" and "whether the lower courts erred in their application of the law." State by Cooper v. French, 460 N.W.2d 2, 4 (Minn. 1990). "[T]he reviewing court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was granted." Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993). 1. Levandoski argues that the trial judge erred in granting respondents' motion for summary judgment because he did not consent to be bound by the purported settlement agreement. Levandoski asserts that he had no attorney-client relationship with Erickson and that he did not authorize Erickson to settle the fee dispute or to bind him to a settlement agreement. Because he had no agency relationship with Erickson, Levandoski argues, the trial judge erred in concluding that a binding settlement agreement existed between the parties. "An agent's actual authority consists of express and implied authority." Winkel v. Eden Rehabilitation Treatment Facility, Inc., 433 N.W.2d 135, 138 (Minn. App. 1988) (citing Hockmeyer v. Pooler, 268 Minn. 551, 565, 130 N.W.2d 367, 377 (1964)). Express authority exists when the principal directly bestows such authority upon the agent. Id. "Implied authority includes only those powers which are essential to carry out the duties expressly delegated to the agent." Id. Whether an attorney has been given express authority to settle a claim is a question of fact to be resolved by the trial court. Rosenberg v. Townsend, Rosenberg & Young, Inc., 376 N.W.2d 434, 438 (Minn. App. 1985). An attorney may bind a client, at any stage of an action or proceeding, by agreement made in writing and signed by such attorney. Minn. Stat. § 481.08 (1994). But, counsel may not settle a client's cause of action without the express authority from the client. Albert v. Edgewater Beach Building Corp., 218 Minn. 20, 24, 15 N.W.2d 460, 463 (1944). In the findings of fact, the trial judge determined that Levandoski gave Erickson apparent authority to act on his behalf, which included the authority to negotiate and enter into the settlement agreement. Despite Levandoski's claims of disinterest in settling the fee dispute, the trial judge noted that, once the settlement documents were delivered, Levandoski did not "amend, disagree, repudiate, renounce or in any way indicate to anyone that he did not agree with the settlement or did not intend to be bound by the settlement agreement." The trial judge further remarked that Levandoski's decision to wait more than a month to disclose his desire to pursue litigation did not weigh in favor of his position. The trial judge then concluded that Levandoski had authorized Erickson to settle the fee dispute and because Levandoski did not promptly move to renounce the agreement, he was now bound by its terms. We hold that the trial judge's grant of summary judgment in favor of respondents was in error. Were this a bench trial where review of credibility of the witnesses and weighing of evidence are required, our determination might be quite different. On this record, however, it appears that the trial judge decided disputed fact issues, contrary to the standard applicable to summary judgment. At the outset, we note that determining Erickson's role, which he described as an "informal mediator," is difficult. The affidavits show that this issue is in dispute. Becker, attorney for respondents Messerli & Kramer and attorney Farrell, testified that Erickson represented himself as Levandoski's attorney with authority to settle the dispute. Levandoski testified by affidavit that Erickson was not his attorney and that he did not give Erickson authority to settle the fee dispute. To the contrary, Ascheman, attorney for respondent Eggink, states by affidavit that Levandoski told him that he had settled the case. We note that this latter, specific statement is not directly contradicted by Levandoski; however, if Levandoski's statement that "he did not authorize Erickson to settle the dispute or enter into a settlement agreement" is true, this inferentially contradicts Ascheman's statement. Although we believe the trial court's analysis of the Erickson-Levandoski relationship based on agency principles was a sensible approach, the trial judge's finding that an agency relationship existed does not acknowledge the parties' disputed testimony. Furthermore, the trial court's findings that "[t]he uncontroverted evidence supports a finding that Levandoski authorized Erickson to negotiate and enter a settlement agreement" and "[t]he evidence, viewed in its entirety, supports a finding that Levandoski authorized Erickson * * * and therefore the settlement agreement is enforceable" state resolved factual conclusions from disputed evidence presented. Where genuine issues of material fact are in dispute, the opponent of the summary judgment motion is entitled to all favorable inferences. We conclude, therefore, that the trial court's grant of summary judgment was improper. 2. Respondents Messerli & Kramer and Farrell also argue that the settlement agreement is entitled to enforcement under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. They contend that Erickson held himself out as Levandoski's agent with authority to settle the fee dispute. Based on assurances from Erickson and Levandoski, respondents claim, they believed the dispute had been settled and agreed to suspend a pending discovery request. Because they agreed not to pursue the outstanding discovery requests, respondents argue, Levandoski should be estopped from reneging on the settlement agreement. Equitable estoppel is a doctrine which has been designed to prevent a party from unfairly benefiting from his own actions. Bethesda Lutheran Church v. Twin City Constr. Co., 356 N.W.2d 344, 349 (Minn. App. 1984). "To invoke this doctrine, [a party] must show that [another party] made representations or inducements upon which [the first party] reasonably relied that will cause [the first party] harm if estoppel is not applied." Id. at 349. The trial court found that Messerli & Kramer and Farrell sent the settlement papers to Levandoski expecting that he would sign and return them. The trial court further found that, in reliance on that expectation, Messerli & Kramer and Farrell suspended their discovery requests. Citing to Rosenberg, the trial court then concluded that, absent any response by Levandoski repudiating the settlement agreement, reliance was reasonable on behalf of Messerli & Kramer and Farrell. We conclude that the trial court's determination supporting enforcement of the agreement based on equitable estoppel is in error. We are cited to no evidence to show that respondents detrimentally relied on their belief that Levandoski would accept the settlement agreement. Levandoski testified that he reviewed the proposed agreement with various attorneys during the period of a month before he informed respondents that he planned to pursue litigation. As a matter of law, we hold that a month so occupied is not an unreasonable amount of time in view of Levandoski's affidavit which affirms that he was consulting with attorneys during that period. We also note that respondents requested signature on the settlement documents by "Dr. Ronald Levandoski - Pro Se". We are troubled that respondents did not advise Levandoski in writing to seek independent legal representation, even though respondent is a law firm purporting to have settled a malpractice dispute with a former client. Absent evidence that respondents advised this pro se ex-client to consult with private counsel in regard to this proposed settlement, respondents' reliance on the doctrine of equitable estoppel is weak and offset by the ethical considerations that are implied. We conclude, therefore, that respondents' assertion of an equitable remedy, without notice to Levandoski to consult with counsel prior to settling the malpractice claim, precludes enforcement of the purported settlement agreement under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. Reversed. * Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10. See Minn. R. Prof. Conduct. 1.8(h).