United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
ORDER AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION (REDACTED)
D. LAND, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
William Lafayette Amos, Jr. asserts a claim for breach of
contract against Leigh Ann Youngblood-West for allegedly
violating the confidentiality provisions of two settlement
agreements. He now moves for summary judgment on his breach
of contract claim and seeks permanent injunctive relief (ECF
No. 112). For the following reasons, the Court grants Dr.
Amos's motion for summary judgment and permanently
enjoins Youngblood-West from violating the confidentiality
provisions of the settlement agreements to the extent
judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a genuine
dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion
for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light
most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment,
drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing
party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it
is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit.
Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if
the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a
verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
FACTUAL RECORD WITHOUT DISCOVERY
Amos filed his motion for summary judgment before the parties
conducted any discovery. Although this may not be the norm,
it is certainly authorized under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(b)
(unless local rules or a court order direct otherwise,
“a party may file a motion for summary judgment at any
time until 30 days after the close of all discovery”).
Youngblood-West has the right to seek discovery if she can
establish that discovery is necessary to adequately respond
to Dr. Amos's summary judgment motion. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(d) (if the nonmoving party shows by affidavit
or declaration that it “cannot present facts essential
to justify its position, ” the Court may defer or deny
the motion for summary judgment, permit further discovery, or
issue any other appropriate order). But, in the affidavit or
declaration, “the nonmoving party must give more than
‘vague assertions that additional discovery will
produce needed, but unspecified, facts.'”
Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan Univ., 780 F.3d 1039, 1063
(11th Cir. 2015) (quoting Reflectone, Inc. v. Farrand
Optical Co., Inc., 862 F.2d 841, 844 (11th Cir.
1989)(per curiam)). And, “a plaintiff's entitlement
to discovery prior to a ruling on a motion for summary
judgment is not unlimited, and may be cut off when the record
shows that the requested discovery is not likely to produce
the facts needed [by the nonmoving party] to withstand a . .
. motion for summary judgment.” Paul Kadair, Inc.
v. Sony Corp. of Am., 694 F.2d 1017, 1029-30 (5th Cir.
claims that she needs discovery before she can adequately
respond to Dr. Amos's motion for summary judgment. Having
reviewed her request, the Court finds that she has not shown
that discovery would likely produce facts needed to respond
to the pending summary judgment motion. The Court intends to
base its decision in part on Youngblood-West's verified
complaint, assuming her factual allegations to be true and
construing reasonable inferences in her favor. Thus, she
certainly does not need discovery to confirm the facts that
she alleges in her complaint given that the Court is going to
accept those facts for purposes of the pending motion.
Moreover, the essential foundation of Dr. Amos's motion
for summary judgment consists of the two settlement
agreements, which are attached as exhibits to both
Youngblood-West's and Dr. Amos's complaints.
Youngblood-West has never disputed that the material portions
of those two documents represent the relevant settlement
paperwork that memorializes the two agreements. She simply
argues that they are not enforceable because Dr. Amos did not
sign them, did not assent to them, did not have the capacity
to assent to them, and participated in a conspiracy to
procure them by fraud and coercion.
purposes of the present motion, the Court accepts as true the
allegation that Dr. Amos did not actually sign the
agreements. But the conclusory arguments that Dr. Amos did
not otherwise assent to them or have the capacity to assent
to them are inconsistent with Youngblood-West's other
factual allegations in her pleadings in this action, and she
has not even bothered to explain the inconsistencies in her
affidavit. She certainly does not need discovery to create a
factual dispute on these issues when she has already stated
her factual position on them, which the Court accepts as true
for purposes of the pending motion. And, even if she could
create a factual dispute on any of these issues, she would
perhaps win the battle but not the war because it is
absolutely clear that Dr. Amos would be a third-party
beneficiary to the agreements and have the legal right to
enforce them, notwithstanding any alleged lack of capacity or
assent on his part. Furthermore, Youngblood-West acknowledges
that she has never tendered the consideration she received
under the agreements, and, even if her excuses for failing to
do so are true, they do not provide a legal basis for now
rescinding the settlement agreements based on fraud.
Consequently, discovery will not assist her with regard to
this claim for avoiding her responsibilities under the
Court notes that it has addressed the enforceability of these
settlement agreements on two previous occasions in this
litigation. It found the agreements enforceable for the
purpose of deciding Youngblood-West's motion to dismiss
Dr. Amos's breach of contract claim; it also found them
enforceable when deciding Dr. Amos and other Defendants'
motions to dismiss Youngblood-West's claims against them
in this action. Breach Action, Order (Aug. 7, 2018), ECF No.
19 at 7-10; RICO Action, Order (Oct. 22, 2018), ECF No. 88 at
33-41. The Court also previously decided that Youngblood-West
is not entitled to discovery in this action to decide the
pending summary judgment motion. As the Court previously
noted in its order rejecting Youngblood-West's Rule 56(d)
declaration, the issues remaining to be decided on summary
judgment “either involve pure questions of law and/or
do not involve genuine factual disputes.” RICO Action,
Order (Dec. 19, 2018), ECF No. 118 at 2. The Court has
“previously determined the enforceability of the
agreements, taking Youngblood-West's allegations as
true.” Id. And, it is “not necessary for
her to engage in discovery to confirm those
allegations” when the Court considers them established
for purposes of the pending motion.
Id. As to her request that she needs to
discover matters apart from what she alleged in her pleadings
and what is indisputably established by the settlement
agreements, the Court finds that the information she seeks to
discover is not material to the issues raised by Dr.
Amos's present motion for summary judgment. The
correctness of this finding should become readily apparent in
the Court's discussion in the remainder of this order.
in the light most favorable to Youngblood-West, the record
reveals the following.
January 5, 1984, [XXXXX].
Youngblood-West later entered into two settlement agreements
that released her claims against Dr. Amos. Those agreements
form the basis of this action.
first agreement was signed on August 28, 1992. In that
agreement, Youngblood-West and her late husband released Dr.
Amos and Medstrategies, Georgia, Inc.
(“Medstrategies”), a for-profit entity that Dr.
Amos is CEO and CFO of, from claims [XXXXX] Breach Action, Compl. Ex. A, 1992
Settlement Agreement 1, ECF No. 2-1. In exchange for the
release, Youngblood-West was promised [XXXXX]. Id. The 1992 settlement
agreement also contained a confidentiality provision stating,
“[Youngblood-West and her late husband] further
covenant that neither they nor their counsel shall reveal to
anyone the alleged acts or omissions giving rise to their
claims against any party released hereby, or any other matter
relevant to such claims, the fact or existence of this
release agreement, any of the terms of this release agreement
or any of the amounts, numbers or terms and conditions of any
sums payable to the undersigned hereunder.”
Id. at 2. A provision of the agreement also stated,
“[i]n the event of a breach of any of the terms or
provisions of this release agreement, [Youngblood-West and
her late husband] shall not be bound by their covenant or
agreement of confidentiality contained in this release
agreement.” Id. Youngblood-West signed the
agreement. Dr. Amos did not.Youngblood-West received the
payment due under the agreement and has not tendered or
attempted to tender this settlement payment back to the payor
before filing suit.
on November 19, 1993, in exchange for [XXXXX], Youngblood-West and her late husband
entered a second settlement agreement releasing a number of
parties, including Dr. Amos and Medstrategies, from these
same and additional claims. Breach Action, Compl. Ex. B, 1993
Settlement Agreement ¶ 2, ECF No. 2-2. This agreement
also had a confidentiality provision which stated that in
exchange for [XXXXX], Youngblood-West
and her late husband “shall maintain at all time the
confidentiality of this agreement and shall not reveal to
anyone, including other attorneys . . ., the alleged acts or
omissions giving rise to their claim against any party
released hereby, or any other matter relevant to such claims,
[or] the fact or existence of this release agreement.”
Id. ¶ 6. The agreement also states that
“[Youngblood-West and her late husband] acknowledge
that the damage to the parties being released hereby would be
irreparable and difficult to ascertain and that their remedy
at law would be inadequate.” Id. ¶ 7. It
contemplates that if Youngblood-West or her late husband
breach the confidentiality provision in the agreement,
“the parties paying the consideration for this
confidentiality agreement shall be entitled to receive . . .
. . . which sum [Youngblood- West and her late husband] agree
is a reasonable pre-estimate of the damages from such a
breach.” Id. The agreement also contemplates
that the released parties could obtain a “permanent
injunction . . . against [Youngblood-West or her late
husband] restricting them from violating the terms of this
confidentiality agreement.” Id. ¶ 8. The
agreement states, “[e]ach of the undersigned
acknowledges and agrees that there is a prior settlement and
release and confidentiality agreement between the undersigned
and [Dr. Amos], which prior agreement does and shall remain
in full force and effect.” Id. ¶ 11. And,
the agreement states that “[t]his agreement and the
prior one may not be modified unless it is done so in writing
signed by the party to be bound.” Id.
does not dispute that she received the settlement payment
under this 1993 agreement and did not tender the payment back
to the payor before filing this suit. Youngblood-West, her
late husband, and their attorney all signed the agreement.
No. other party signed the agreement. Youngblood-West
received a check from [XXXXX]
Id. at 8 (depicting a copy of the check with the
signatures of Youngblood-West, her husband, and their
attorney underneath). Dr. Amos's signature appears on the
signature line of this check. Compare id.,
with 1992 Settlement Agreement 4 (showing a
signature block with Dr. Amos's signature that matches
the signature on the [XXXXX]).
March 16, 2018, Youngblood-West's attorney sent a letter
to two attorneys at the law firm of Alston & Bird
discussing [XXXXX]. Breach Action,
Compl. Ex. C, Letter from D. Joffe to L. Cassilly and M. Gill
(Mar. 16, 2018), ECF No. 2-3. Then, on April 14, 2018,
Youngblood-West's attorney emailed several Alston &
Bird attorneys a 51-page draft RICO complaint against Aflac,
Dr. Amos, and others. Breach Action, Compl. Ex. D, Email from
D. Joffe to J. Grant, M. Gill, L. Cassilly, S. Pryor, and J.
Bogan (Apr. 14, 2018), ECF No. 2-4; id. Ex. ...