United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
BLACK JAGUAR, WHITE TIGER, FOUNDATION, and EDUARDO SERIO, Plaintiffs,
ANDREA TIFFANY and DOES 1-20, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AND TO COMPEL ANDREA TIFFANY TO SIGN
RETRACTION LETTER (DOCKET ENTRY # 35)
MARIANNE B. BOWLER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before this court is a motion to enforce a settlement
agreement and to compel defendant Andrea Tiffany
(“defendant”) to sign a retraction letter filed
by plaintiff Black Jaguar, White Tiger, Foundation
(“BJWT”) and plaintiff Eduardo Serio
(collectively “plaintiffs”). (Docket Entry #
35). Defendant opposes the motion. (Docket Entry # 44). After
listening to oral argument, this court took the motion
(Docket Entry # 35) under advisement.
filed this action in May 2018 alleging that defendant and
unidentified individuals published numerous false and
malicious statements of fact about plaintiffs on various
social media platforms. Based on diversity jurisdiction, they
assert state law claims for defamation and tortious
interference with actual and prospective business
relationships. (Docket Entry # 1).
February 6, 2019 status conference, the issue of a
possibility of settlement arose. After a recess to allow
defendant to speak to her counsel, the parties returned to
the courtroom and plaintiffs' counsel suggested reading
terms of a settlement reached by the parties into the
record. Immediately before plaintiffs' counsel
read the terms into the record, defendant asked if she had to
agree to the settlement “right now, ” to which
this court responded that plaintiffs' counsel is
“going to dictate the terms. Then they will be reduced
to writing . . . [a]nd then you will have the opportunity to
review it with your counsel and sign.” (Docket Entry #
48, p. 14). Plaintiffs' counsel then proceeded to read
certain terms of the purported settlement into the record,
including that defendant “will execute a
correction/retraction letter which my clients will be free to
use to attempt to restore their reputation to the extent
necessary.” (Docket Entry # 48, p. 15). After reading
various terms into the record, defendant stated that she
understood the terms. (Docket Entry # 48, p. 19). When asked
if she understood that “this will be the substance of
the agreement, ” the following exchange took place:
The Defendant: Yes. I mean, there's a little detail that
I think will get worked out later, but I understand.
The Court: And what is that?
The Defendant: The letter and stuff like this. I don't
really understand what they're wanting with this.
[Defendant's Counsel]: The details of the settlement will
be worked out in a written Settlement Agreement . . .
The Court: So do you understand all of the terms that have
been set forth today?
The Defendant: Yes. I would like to see them in writing
though. I'm not good verbally hearing things. I need to
visually see it.
Entry # 48, pp. 19-20).
February 28, 2019, this court convened a second status
conference during which the dispute regarding the content of
the retraction letter continued. Plaintiffs' counsel
stated his clients needed the retraction letter to accept a
settlement that had no money thus indicating the materiality
of the retraction letter. (Docket Entry # 49, p. 19). At the
conclusion of the conference, this court gave defendant two
weeks to write a retraction letter and set a further hearing
to determine if plaintiffs could “live with that
statement.” (Docket Entry # 49, pp. 27-28).
Plaintiffs' counsel agreed. (Docket Entry # 49, p. 28).
March 14, 2019 email to plaintiffs' counsel,
defendant's counsel attached a letter stating that
defendant “has agreed to sign” the letter
(henceforth, “March 14 retraction letter”).
(Docket Entry # 35-4). Plaintiffs' counsel responded by
email the following day that the March 14 retraction letter
was acceptable except for a typographical error in the
spelling of plaintiff Eduardo Serio's name. (Docket Entry
# 35-5). In a reply email, defendant's counsel attached a
corrected version of the March 14 retraction letter, stated
he would ask defendant to sign the final settlement
agreement, and thanked plaintiffs' counsel for his
“help in resolving this matter.” (Docket Entry #