11 F.3d 82 (7th Cir. 1993), 92-3697, Gould v. Bowyer

Docket Nº:92-3697.
Citation:11 F.3d 82
Party Name:Frank GOULD, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Larry BOWYER, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:December 02, 1993
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 82

11 F.3d 82 (7th Cir. 1993)

Frank GOULD, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

Larry BOWYER, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 92-3697.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

December 2, 1993

Submitted Oct. 26, 1993.

Page 83

Frederick W. Dennerline, Fillenwarth, Dennerline, Groth & Towe, Indianapolis, IN, Michael A. Crabtree, Central Pension Fund of the I.U.O.E. & Participating Employers, Washington, DC for plaintiffs-appellees.

Raymond C. Bowyer, Walton, IN for defendant-appellant.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and RIPPLE and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

POSNER, Chief Judge.

The defendant in an ERISA case appeals from the grant by the district judge of the plaintiffs' motion to vacate the judgment in the defendant's favor; the basis for the motion was that, unbeknownst to the judge, the parties had agreed to settle the case. The plaintiffs, administrators of a union pension fund, had filed suit in March 1987, charging that the defendant, an employer required by its collective bargaining agreement with the union to make certain contributions to the fund, had failed to do so. The plaintiffs moved for summary judgment in December 1988 and the defendant in February of the following year. Afterward the parties began negotiating a settlement. On June 17, 1992, they signed an agreement requiring the defendant to pay $15,000 to the fund within 90 days and the plaintiffs to dismiss the suit with prejudice as soon as the payment was received. On August 19, before payment was due or had been paid, the district judge--who had not been told of the settlement agreement--entered an order, accompanied by a lengthy opinion, granting summary judgment for the defendant and against the plaintiffs. The record does not reveal why the judge had waited more than three years since the last motion for summary judgment had been filed to rule on the motions. A final judgment in favor of the defendant was duly entered. On September 14 the defendant delivered $15,000 to the plaintiffs in accordance with the settlement agreement. The plaintiffs then asked the district court to vacate its judgment for the defendant and dismiss the suit with prejudice, and the judge did so over the defendant's objection.

The dispute between the parties had not yet become moot when the judgment was entered, because the settlement agreement had not yet become effective. Selcke v. New England Ins. Co., 2...

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