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Samet v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 30, 2019

JAYNE G. SAMET, Plaintiff,
v.
BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          GLORIA M. NAVARRO, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Jayne Samet's (“Plaintiff's”) Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 36). Defendant Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC (“Defendant”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 41), and Plaintiff filed a Reply, (ECF No. 44).

         Also pending before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Enforcement Settlement, (ECF No. 42), and Motion for Sanctions, (ECF No. 43). Plaintiff filed Responses, (ECF Nos. 48, 49), and Defendant filed a Reply, (ECF No. 51).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS in part Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss, GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Enforce Settlement, and DENIES Defendant's Motion for Sanctions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on May 18, 2018, alleging Defendant inaccurately informed credit reporting agencies that Plaintiff owed a “past due” debt of over $100, 000 based on a loan to purchase real property located at 2331 Peaceful Sky Drive, Henderson, NV 89044 (the “Property”). (Compl. ¶¶ 19, 39-61, ECF No. 1). To support Plaintiff's contention that she does not owe any past-due debt related to the Property, she alleges that she surrendered her Property to BAC Home Loans Servicing, LLC (“BAC”) in 2014 pursuant to a Confirmation Order in bankruptcy court, thereby discharging the debt. (Id. ¶ 19). Defendant later became BAC's successor in interest. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20). Despite the earlier Confirmation Order, Plaintiff contends that Defendant continued to report the debt on the Property as past-due and owing. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 23-24, 39). Plaintiff thus argues that Defendant's inaccurate reporting of debt violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681. et seq. (Id. ¶¶ 73-76).

         On September 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Settlement in this case stating that the parties “have reached a tentative settlement.” (Not. Settlement 1:24-26, ECF No. 27). Defendant alleges that, as part of the settlement agreement, Plaintiff agreed to not contest foreclosure on the Property. (Def.'s Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss (“Def.'s Resp.”) 3:1-4, ECF No. 41). However, Defendant's counsel later discovered that Plaintiff applied for a modification of her loan on the Property. (Id. 3:15-22); (Emails re: Application for Loan Modification (“Loan Emails”) at 1, Ex. B to Mot. Enforce Settlement (“MES”), ECF No. 42-2). Plaintiff also filed a Petition for Foreclosure Mediation Assistance in state court on October 19, 2018, seeking an alternative to foreclosure of the Property; and the state court set a mediation for March 5, 2019. (MES 3:23-4:1-5); (see also Pet. Foreclosure Mediation Assistance, Ex. C. to MES., ECF No. 42-3).

         On March 11, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss Defendant with prejudice, (ECF No. 36). Defendant opposes the Motion only to the extent that dismissal would occur without “holding [Plaintiff] to the terms of the settlement agreement.” (Resp. 2:16-19, ECF No. 41). Defendant thus seeks enforcement of the settlement alongside sanctions against Plaintiff. (MES, ECF Nos. 42); (Mot. Sanctions, ECF No. 43).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Enforce Settlement

         “It is well settled that a district court has the equitable power to enforce summarily an agreement to settle a case pending before it. However, the district court may enforce only complete settlement agreements.” Callie v. Near, 829 F.2d 888, 890 (9th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted). “Whether the parties intended only to be bound upon the execution of a written, signed agreement is a factual issue.” Id. at 890-91. “In addition to the intent of the parties to bind themselves, the formation of a settlement contract requires agreement on its material terms.” Id. at 891. “Because a settlement agreement is a contract, its construction and enforcement are governed by principles of contract law.” May v. Anderson, 119 P.3d 1254, 1257 (Nev. 2005) (footnote omitted).

         Under Nevada law, “[b]asic contract principles require, for an enforceable contract, an offer and acceptance, meeting of the minds, and consideration.” Id. (footnote omitted). “A valid contract cannot exist when material terms are lacking or are insufficiently certain and definite.” Id. (footnote omitted). “A contract can be formed, however, when the parties have agreed to the material terms, even though the contract's exact language is not finalized until later.” Id. (footnote omitted). Ordinarily, “[w]here a complete contract was made orally, the fact that it was expected that a written contract would afterwards be signed, embodying the terms of the oral contract, does not prevent the oral contract from taking effect.” Micheletti v. Fugitt, 134 P.2d 99, 104 (Nev. 1943).

         “In the case of a settlement agreement, a court cannot compel compliance when material terms remain uncertain.” May, 119 P.3d at 1257 (footnote omitted). “The court must be able to ascertain what is required of the respective parties.” Id. (footnote omitted). “[T]he question of whether a contract exists is one of fact.” Id. A settlement contract is formed “when the parties have agreed to its material terms”; accordingly, a party's refusal to later execute a written settlement agreement containing the agreed upon terms “does not render the settlement agreement invalid.” Id. at 1256.

         B. ...


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