Wednesday, March 08, 2006

S.C. Supreme Court issues Rule 43(k) Opinion

In Farnsworth v. Davis Heating, Farnsworth brought an action against Davis for breach of contract and negligence. During discovery, Farnsworth's attorney sent a letter to Davis's attorney indicating that Farnsworth would release Davis of all liability if Davis were to pay $22,000 to Farnsworth. There is no dispute that Farnsworth authorized her attorney to offer this settlement. Davis's attorney accepted the offer by signing the letter. Soon thereafter, Farnsworth decided that she wanted a trial. She notified Davis that she was rescinding the agreement. Davis thereafter filed a motion to compel Farnsworth to comply with the agreement. The trial court held that Rule 43(k) mandated that the agreement be enforced. The supreme court reversed.

Rule 43(k) provides that "No agreement between counsel affecting the proceedings in an action shall be binding unless reduced to the form of a consent order or written stipulation signed by counsel and entered in the record, or unless made in open court and noted upon the record. "

The supreme court held that because none on the conditions discussed in the Rule were satisfied, the signed letter was not worth the paper it was written on.

No comments: