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Tillman v. Mejabi

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 20, 2015

TILLMAN et al.
v.
MEJABI

Settlement. Fayette State Court. Before Judge Thompson.

The Conner Law Group, David M. Conner, for appellants.

Carlock, Copeland & Stair, Frederick M. Valz III, Erica L. Parsons, Brennan, Harris & Rominger, G. Mason White, Worsham, Corsi, Scott & Knighten, Andrea E. Dobur, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 111

Doyle, Presiding Judge.

John and Terry Tillman, plaintiffs in a personal injury suit arising from a car crash, appeal from an order granting defendant Funmilayo Mejabi's motion to enforce a settlement agreement. The Tillmans contend that the trial court erred because Mejabi's acceptance of their settlement demand contained additional terms not included in the plaintiffs' demand. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

We apply a de novo standard of review to a trial court's order on a motion to enforce a settlement agreement. Because the issues raised are analogous to those in a motion for summary judgment, in order to succeed on a motion to enforce a settlement agreement, a party must show the court that the documents, affidavits, depositions and other evidence in the record reveal that there is no evidence sufficient to create a jury issue on at least one essential element of the [a]ppellant[s'] case. Thus, we view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.[1]

The relevant record is undisputed and shows that on or around August 30, 2011, Mr. Tillman was allegedly involved in an automobile collision with Mejabi. He sought and received certain medical treatments [331 Ga.App. 416] , and on October 30, 2012, the Tillmans' attorney sent a letter to a claims representative for Progressive Mountain Insurance Company, Mejabi's automobile insurer. The letter listed various medical and mileage expenses incurred by Mr. Tillman and a loss of consortium claim[2] and stated as follows:

This letter is an offer to compromise a disputed claim. ... We respectfully advise you that we represent [the Tillmans] in regard to the above-referenced matter. In this respect, Mr. Tillman was seriously injured in an automobile collision that ... was caused by and the fault of Funmilayo Mejabi, who is or was an insured of [Progressive]. ... To date, the total amount of

Page 112

special damages is $70,425.69. ... Based on the above information we, therefore, demand the policy limits of $25,000 in full and final settlement of this matter. This demand is extended until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, at which time it will stand withdrawn.[3]

The letter makes no mention of a release, indemnification, or other terms commonly anticipated and discussed during settlements of this nature.[4]

Three days later, Progressive responded with a letter tendering a check for $25,000. The letter stated:

In response to your letter dated October 30, 2012[,] for your client John Tillman, Progressive agrees to meet your demand of $25,000 ...

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