216 F.3d 695 (8th Cir. 2000), 99-1738, Gilbert v. Monsanto Co.

Docket Nº:99-1738, 99-1873
Citation:216 F.3d 695
Party Name:WILLIAM T. GILBERT, III, PLAINTIFF - APPELLANT, v. MONSANTO COMPANY, DEFENDANT - APPELLEE. Page 696 WILLIAM T. GILBERT, III, PLAINTIFF - APPELLEE, v. MONSANTO COMPANY, DEFENDANT - APPELLANT.
Case Date:June 20, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 695

216 F.3d 695 (8th Cir. 2000)

WILLIAM T. GILBERT, III, PLAINTIFF - APPELLANT,

v.

MONSANTO COMPANY, DEFENDANT - APPELLEE.

Page 696

WILLIAM T. GILBERT, III, PLAINTIFF - APPELLEE,

v.

MONSANTO COMPANY, DEFENDANT - APPELLANT.

Nos. 99-1738, 99-1873

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 20, 2000

Submitted: November 15, 1999

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Before Richard S. Arnold, John R. Gibson, and Beam, Circuit Judges.

John R. Gibson, Circuit Judge.

William T. Gilbert, III appeals from the district court's judgment on his action to enforce his settlement agreement with Monsanto Company. Gilbert argues that the district court improperly denied him attorney's fees and back pension benefits following Monsanto's breach of the settlement agreement. Monsanto cross-appeals, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement and that, even assuming jurisdiction was proper, parol evidence of any prior agreement as to pension benefits should not have been considered by the district court. We affirm the enforcement of the settlement agreement and denial of back pension benefits, but reverse the denial of attorney's fees.

On June 29, 1995, Gilbert brought suit against Monsanto under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and the Missouri Human Rights Act ("MHRA"). Gilbert's attorney, David C. Howard, presented a written settlement demand to Monsanto on March 6, 1997, which requested a lump sum payment and immediate access to pension benefits. William Weidle, Jr., attorney for Monsanto, orally accepted the demand on behalf of his client. Howard then drafted an agreement which included the lump sum payment but made no mention of Gilbert's pension benefits. Monsanto's in-house counsel, Marty Zucker, signed the agreement, and the document was then retained by Weidle and never signed by Gilbert. Howard testified at a hearing on a motion to enforce the settlement agreement that he did not include a pension benefits provision in the agreement because Weidle told him that Gilbert was entitled to accelerated pension benefits regardless of the settlement. The parties later advised the district court of their settlement agreement, and the court dismissed the case with prejudice subject to its retention of jurisdiction to enforce the agreement.

Monsanto paid Gilbert the lump sum they had agreed upon. However, Gilbert

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failed to receive payments under his pension, so he moved the district court to enforce the settlement agreement. On June 3, 1998, the court found that the parties' oral agreement included early receipt of pension benefits and ordered the parties to work out a payment schedule. One month later, the court denied Gilbert's motion for attorney's fees as a prevailing party under the ADEA. Then, in its order of August 17, 1998, the court found that an amendment to the pension plan resulted in Gilbert being entitled to higher monthly payments under the plan than if he had immediately begun receiving payments following the settlement. These higher payments, the court reasoned, fully compensated Gilbert for the missed payments. The parties attempted to appeal the district court's rulings twice before, but we dismissed those appeals as premature. Gilbert filed the current appeal on March 1, 1999, and Monsanto subsequently filed its cross-appeal.

I.

Monsanto challenges the current appeal as untimely, arguing that the district court entered a final judgment on August 17, 1998. However, in dismissing a prior appeal on February 26, 1999, we held that the final judgment for purposes of appeal was entered on February 5, 1999. "'The law of the case' doctrine generally requires that a decision on a former appeal be followed in any subsequent proceedings in that court or a lower court unless evidence subsequently introduced is substantially different or the decision is clearly erroneous and works manifest injustice." South Cent. Enters., Inc. v. Farrington (In re Progressive Farmers Ass'n), 829 F.2d 651, 655 (8th Cir. 1987). Monsanto points to no error or injustice, and we see none. Therefore, Gilbert's March 1, 1999 notice of appeal of the district court's judgment was well within the 30-day requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2107 (1994).

II.

Monsanto further argues that the district court was without jurisdiction to enter its order enforcing the terms of the parties' oral settlement agreement. We review questions of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. See Jenisio v. Ozark Airlines, Inc. Retirement Plan for Agent and Clerical Employees, 187 F.3d 970...

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