Monday, January 25, 2010

Order Denying Attempt To Set Aside Settlement Agreement Affirmed

In Rachid v. Perez (3D08-1210), the Third District affirmed the trial court's "order denying her motion for rehearing and her motion to set aside the order granting the motion to enforce the mediated settlement agreement."  The court stated:
Rachid seeks rescission of the settlement agreement based upon unilateral mistake. Because her appeal is directed to the order denying her motion for rehearing and a denial of her motion to set aside the order granting the motion to enforce the mediated settlement, the standard of review is gross abuse of discretion.  LPP Mortgage Ltd. v. Bank of Am., N.A., 826 So. 2d 462, 463-64 (Fla. 3d DCA 2002) (holding that “whether relief should be granted . . . is a fact specific question and the trial court’s ruling should not be disturbed on appeal absent a gross abuse of discretion”). We additionally note that “[t]here is a more stringent standard of review, however, when the final judgment to be vacated follows a mediated settlement agreement.” Tilden Groves Holding Corp. v. Orlando/Orange County Expressway, 816 So. 2d 658, 660 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002).
With regard to the specific issue in the appeal:
Even if Rachid had preserved the issue of unilateral mistake, we would affirm. First, Rachid’s burden when seeking rescission of a settlement agreement on this legal theory is a particularly difficult one.....Second, Rachid’s argument is without merit as the record does not support the legal remedy of rescission on the basis that the settlement agreement was the product of a unilateral mistake. Under Florida law, the party seeking rescission based on unilateral mistake must establish that:
(1) the mistake was induced by the party seeking to benefit from the mistake, (2) there is no negligence or want of due care on the part of the party seeking a return to the status quo, (3) denial of release from the agreement would be inequitable, and (4) the position of the opposing party has not so changed that granting the relief would be unjust.
Here, Rachid does not claim that any party misled or induced her to enter into the settlement agreement. Rather, she contends that her attorney misled or induced her. Thus, her claim fails as a matter of law.


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