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Garde-Hill v. Cadbury at Cherry Hill, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 14, 2018

PATRIA P. GARDE-HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CADBURY AT CHERRY HILL, INC., BRIAN KLOCKE, TAMMI MILOSZAR, and MEGAN NESSELL, Defendants.

          WILLIAM B. HILDEBRAND LAW OFFICES OF WILLIAM B. HILDEBRAND, LLC On behalf of Plaintiff

          LOUIS L. CHODOFF RENEE NUNLEY SMITH BALLARD SPAHR LLP On behalf of Defendant

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Defendant Cadbury at Cherry Hill, Inc.[1] asks this Court to enforce a Settlement Agreement with Plaintiff Patria Garde-Hill in this employment discrimination matter. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

         I.

         While not directly relevant to deciding the present motion, the Court will briefly set for the facts and procedural history of the underlying case. Plaintiff alleged that while working for Cadbury, a continuing care retirement community, she was discriminated against because of her age and terminated on October 17, 2014 in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq.

         Plaintiff filed her Complaint pro se[2] on December 28, 2015.[3]Throughout 2016 and 2017, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, including settlement conferences before the Magistrate Judge assigned to this matter. Following an August 24, 2017 Settlement Conference, that same judge ordered Defendant to file a motion to enforce settlement. Defendant filed its motion on October 13, 2017.

         II.

         “Courts treat a motion to enforce settlement under the same standard as a motion for summary judgment because the central issue is whether there is any disputed issue of material fact as to the validity of the settlement agreement.” Coleman Enters. Co. v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., No. 14-7533, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50078, at *9 (D.N.J. Mar. 31, 2017) (citing Washington v. Klem, 388 Fed.Appx. 84, 85 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that “'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits if any, ' . . . demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact” and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56).

         An issue is “genuine” if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. “In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence ‘is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'” Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

         Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (“[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”); see Singletary v. Pa. Dep't of Corr., 266 F.3d 186, 192 n.2 (3d Cir. 2001) (“Although the initial burden is on the summary judgment movant to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ‘the burden on the moving party may be discharged by “showing” - that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case' when the nonmoving party bears the ultimate burden of proof.” (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325)).

         Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. A “party opposing summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the . . . pleading[s].'” Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). For “the non-moving party[] to prevail, [that party] must ‘make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” Cooper v. Sniezek, 418 Fed.Appx. 56, 58 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257.

         “[T]he party seeking to enforce the settlement agreement[] has the burden of proving the existence of the agreement under contract law.” United States ...


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