Written by attorney Steven Irwin Milligram

E-Mail may satisfy the provisions of CPLR 2104 as to the necessity of a writing to make a settlement binding.

E-Mail may satisfy the provisions of CPLR 2104 as to the necessity of a writing to make a settlement binding.

In Forcelli v. Gelco Corp 2013 NY Slip Op 05437while a summary judgment motion was pending in this auto accident case, the claims adjuster sent plaintiff’s counsel an e-mail acknowledging that a settlement had been agreed to, which contained information that would be necessary to include in the release.

At the time or just before the releases were served, the Court granted that defendants motion for summary judgment. Defendants then tried to repudiate the settlement contending that the email did not constitute a binding written settlement agreement.

The Court noted that the plain language of CPLR 2014 directs that a settlement agreement must be in writing, signed by the party (or attorney) to be bound, must set forth all material terms, and there must be a manifestation of mutual assent. The Court found that the e-mail provided all the material terms of the agreement, namely the acceptance by the plaintiffs' counsel of an offer to settle the case in exchange for a release in favor of the defendants, and contained an expression of mutual assent. Moreover the fact that the e-mail was from the claims adjuster and not the attorney or defendant was not important, as the claims adjuster, as a representative of the defendants' insurer, was clothed with apparent authority to settle the case on behalf of the insured

The Court concluded:

Accordingly, we hold that where, as here, an email message contains all material terms of a settlement and a manifestation of mutual accord, and the party to be charged, or his or her agent, types his or her name under circumstances manifesting an intent that the name be treated as a signature, such an email message may be deemed a subscribed writing within the meaning of CPLR 2104 so as to constitute an enforceable agreement.

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