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Agreement to Settle and Terms of the Agreement; Julie Ward v. Marjorie L. Lassiter

August 5, 2020

This appeal arose out of a settlement agreement reached between the parties in an automobile accident. As trial approached, the parties discussed settlement, and counsel for Plaintiff sent an e-mail to defense counsel confirming his client would accept $7,000.00 if it were affirmed, and would not counter. Defense counsel responded with, “We are settled at $7,000.00.” There were no discussions regarding the terms of the release or indemnification. Defense counsel sent Plaintiff a Release which contained indemnification language.

When the parties exchanged their respective releases, the Plaintiff refused to indemnify the Defendant to $7,000.00 and removed language from the Defendant’s proposed Release indicating that the Defendant would not be responsible for any future payments of all injury related medical expenses.

In an unreported opinion, the Court found that although the parties did not discuss the specific terms of settlement, the intent to settle the litigation was to create “litigation peace” and extinguish the claims between the parties by both release and indemnification. Despite the lack of specific terms, the Court held, “that Ms. Ward’s agreement to settle this case in exchange for a payment of $7,000.00, certainly included agreement to release Ms. Lassiter and to indemnify Ms. Lassiter for claims third parties could bring against her….”