The defendants successfully brought a motion to enforce a
settlement agreement in a personal injury action.
Webber commenced two separate actions seeking damages arising
from a slip and fall accident and motor vehicle accident
respectively. Webber and the defendants from the two personal
injury actions participated in a joint settlement conference with a
view to resolving both claims.
Following a successful settlement, Boutilier and Dartmouth
Central Plumbing and Heating (the defendants in the motor vehicle
claim) forwarded a release, consent dismissal order, and settlement
funds to Webber's counsel. The release contained a
confidentiality clause, confirming that the terms of the settlement
were confidential and that Webber would be liable for repayment of
the settlement funds if she was found in violation of the
confidentiality clause. The release also contained a clause
that Webber would indemnify and save harmless Boutilier and
Dartmouth Central Plumbing and Heating from any subrogation
Webber's counsel returned the signed release with an
"X" marked through the confidentiality and
indemnification clauses. Those paragraphs were also initialed
by Webber and her counsel. In response, counsel for Boutilier
and Dartmouth Central Plumbing and Heating argued that the
settlement agreement was inclusive of all claims, including
existing and future subrogation claims, such as potential claims by
the Department of Health under the Health Services and
Insurance Act, RSNS 1989, c 197.
The Court found that the settlement reached at the settlement
conference was "full and final", and included a clear
understanding that all matters were settled, including any
subrogation claims. The all-inclusive basis of the settlement
was an essential term of the agreement and Webber must release
Boutilier and Dartmouth Central Plumbing and Heating from all
claims relating to her action, including any potential subrogation
Lesson for Insurers
Unfortunately, disputes will sometimes arise following a
settlement agreement. Although this cannot always be avoided,
parties can take precautions to ensure that there is a common
understanding of the terms involved. Such precautions may
include the use of minutes of settlement or a confirming letter
setting out the terms of the agreement.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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