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Posted: September 2, 2014

Second Department Affirms Trial Court Decision Modifying Settlement Agreement

On August 27, 2014, the Second Department issued a decision in Mochkin v. Mochkin, 2014 NY Slip Op. 05963, affirming a trial court decision modifying a settlement agreement that had been entered on the record before it.

In Mochkin, the parties settled a dispute between them “in a stipulation of settlement dated July 25, 2011, which was so-ordered by the Supreme Court.” The stipulation “provided that the Supreme Court would retain jurisdiction ‘in all matters related hereto.'” When the defendant was unable to perform the agreement because the plaintiff had filed a notice of pendency against property involved in the dispute, “the defendant moved for a further extension of time to pay the remaining $700,000,” which the trial court granted. The Second Department affirmed, explaining:

Contrary to the appellant’s contention, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in granting that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to further extend the time for payment of the balance of the settlement funds. A settlement agreement entered into by parties to a lawsuit does not terminate the action unless there has been an express stipulation of discontinuance or actual entry of judgment in accordance with the terms of the settlement. Absent such termination, the court retains its supervisory power over the action and may lend aid to a party who had moved for enforcement of the settlement. Further, CPLR 2004 provides, in pertinent part, that the court may extend the time fixed by any statute, rule or order for doing any act, upon such terms as may be just and upon good cause shown. In addition to the statutory authority, a court has authority under the common law, in its discretion, to grant relief from a judgment or order in the interest of justice, taking into account the equities of the case and the grounds for the requested relief.

Here, the appellant and the defendant executed a stipulation of settlement which was so-ordered by the Supreme Court. It did not contain any provision terminating or discontinuing the action, and no judgment was entered in accordance with its terms. It provided, however, that the Supreme Court would retain jurisdiction in all related matters. Under the circumstances of this case, and pursuant to CPLR 2004 and the court’s common-law supervisory authority, the Supreme Court providently exercised its discretion in granting that branch of the defendant’s motion which was to further extend the time for payment of the balance of the settlement funds provided for in the so-ordered stipulation of settlement dated July 25, 2011.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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