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Does An Email Exchange Constitute Enforceable Settlement Agreement? (PA)

November 29, 2018

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In <a href="http://Email Subject Line: Agreement Accepted In Hatchigan v. Kaplin, the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas analyzed whether an email exchange resulted in an enforceable settlement agreement. In brief, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit. Subsequently, following an exchange of telephone conversations, defense counsel sent an email to the plaintiff offering a settlement amount and also sought a general release and dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. Plaintiff’s counsel responded to the email stating “Agreed and accepted. Plaintiff will end, discontinue, settle accordingly to the defendants’ conditions …”. In response to the plaintiff’s email, defense counsel drafted a release, noting that the settlement was based on the prior exchange of emails, which the plaintiff signed. Upon receipt of the signed release, defense counsel requested that plaintiff have his signature notarized. At which time, the plaintiff advised he no longer agreed to the settlement. The defendants moved to enforce the settlement. Ultimately, the court found the agreement to be enforceable. The court reasoned that in their emails the parties agreed on the essential terms of the settlement, which formed a valid and enforceable contract. Accordingly, this case reveals that Pennsylvania courts may look to the communications between parties to determine if an enforceable settlement has been reached. https://www.law.com/thelegalintelligencer/almID/1542684310PA181379/?download=181379.pdf"><em>Hatchigan v. Kaplin</em>,</a> the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas analyzed whether an email exchange resulted in an enforceable settlement agreement.  In brief, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit.  Subsequently, following an exchange of telephone conversations, defense counsel sent an email to the plaintiff offering a settlement amount and also sought a general release and dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit.  Plaintiff’s counsel responded to the email stating “Agreed and accepted.  Plaintiff will end, discontinue, settle accordingly to the defendants’ conditions …”.

In response to the plaintiff’s email, defense counsel drafted a release, noting that the settlement was based on the prior exchange of emails, which the plaintiff signed.  Upon receipt of the signed release, defense counsel requested that plaintiff have his signature notarized.  At which time, the plaintiff advised he no longer agreed to the settlement.  The defendants moved to enforce the settlement.  Ultimately, the court found the agreement to be enforceable.  The court reasoned that in their emails the parties agreed on the essential terms of the settlement, which formed a valid and enforceable contract.

Accordingly, this case reveals that Pennsylvania courts may look to the communications between parties to determine if an enforceable settlement has been reached.

Thanks to Collen Hayes for her contribution to this post.

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