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What are Examples of Damages in a breach of a Confidential Settlement Agreement claim and How Can they be Proven?

Tampa, FL |
Filed under: Litigation Discovery

The Defendant in a lawsuit has breached the Stipulations set forth in a Confidential Settlement Agreement by placing in the Court file, a public record; and had maliciously and innacurately disseminated the Stipluations of that Confidential Settlement Agreement in a manner that had disparaged and discredited the Plaintiff; thus consequently harming his personal and professional reputation by causing others to disassociate with him and by also caused him to lose business; and by causing a family member of the Defendant who has no understanding of the facts in the situation to make threats of violence on a continual basis against the Plaintiff and his family.

Are these legally sufficient examples of 'damages' and how can they be proven? If the case is re-opened to redress the Defendant's breach of the Confidential Settlement Agreement, does the Plaintiff have the right to initiate Discovery in the form of Interrogatories and Requests for Admissions from the Defendant; in addition to serving witnesses with a Subpoena in order to obtain any evidence and/or sworn testimony in order to support or to otherwise prove any claim that the Plaintiff may have to prove damages in connection with the breach? Or is the Court more likely to inform the Plaintiff that he needs to file a separate lawsuit to address any damages in connection with the Defendant's breach?

Attorney Answers 2


Sometimes settlement agreements are filed with the court, sometimes they're not. In this case, the agreement itself should spell out what "confidential" means and whether the agreement is supposed to be filed with the court or not. If not, I would think that even though it's been public since it was filed, that it could be removed from the court's file if filing it was itself a breach of its own terms. And maybe you don't want to removed - it says what it says, and if the ase was settled, then doesn't it undercut the defendant's alleged breach of confidentiality?

As for the defendant's alleged defamatory statements, whether the judge will allow discovery on that issue is up to them.

It doesn't sound like you've got compensable damages here, and it's not enough to have some liability, you also need damages. The agreement may provide that the party needing to enforce the settlement is entitled to their legal fees, so hire a lawyer for help, and bill the defendant. Apparently you plan on relying on Avvo rather than hiring your own lawyer, but legal fees are the easiest thing to prove of your alleged damages, since you'll have a hard time quantifying the damages from "disassociation," preventing you from finding a job (how would any potential employer know about any of this?), and your relative's threats of violence. As for losing business, that's compensable, if you can prove the actual loss as well as the causation, which won't be easy, but regardless your earlier question indicated you were unsuccessfully looking for work.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

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Thank you, once again, Ms. Koslyn. I apologize if the question seemed repetitive, for the most part; however, I simply wished to narrow down just exactly what constituted as 'damages' and how they could be proven. And I agree with you that it would be most difficult to prove damages from 'disassociation', unless of course it is as a result of Defamation Per Se (imputing criminal misconduct, mental illness or accused of having a loathsome disease) where damages are presumed in most jurisdictions; I simply just wanted to get a general idea by using Avvo to simply educate others as well as myself as to whether or not that this would be worth the time, money and effort of an attorney to seek judicial relief. You helped me to understand that it is simply not worth pursuing the damage aspect of the breach on any practical level; and for that, I am grateful to you for your thoroughly straighforward advice of the matter.

Pamela Koslyn

Pamela Koslyn


Welcome. The other consideratuo here is that defamation claims bring even more attention to the disclosure a claimant wishes had never been disclosed, so unless there's a lot of money at stake, it seems counterproductive to seek enforcement of this agreement. You may be better off educating your uninformed relative who's making the threats, and moving on. Your settlement agreement and the dismissal of the case speak for themselves.


The examples you provide of losing business and having people disassociate themselves from a person as a result of defamatory material disclosed in violation of a confidential settlement agreement do seem like compensable damages. It is often hard to value the loss of personal relationships so if the settlement agreement doesn't spell it out then you would use ordinary measures of damages and a jury determination. As for loss of business, that is typically evaluated by proof of business before and after, customers had and lost, etc. You should definitely speak with an attorney. You may have a claim for breach of the settlement agreement and/or also a claim for defamation.

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