Fleming v. U.S. Postal Service AMF O'Hare, No. 92-2735

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore POSNER, Chief Judge, and ESCHBACH and EASTERBROOK; POSNER
Citation27 F.3d 259
Docket NumberNo. 92-2735
Decision Date16 June 1994
Parties66 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 627, 65 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 43,182, 5 NDLR P 121 Beatrice FLEMING, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE AMF O'HARE and Marvin Runyon, Postmaster General, United States Postal Service, Defendants-Appellees.

Page 259

27 F.3d 259
66 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 627,
65 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 43,182, 5 NDLR P 121
Beatrice FLEMING, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE AMF O'HARE and Marvin Runyon,
Postmaster General, United States Postal Service,
Defendants-Appellees.
No. 92-2735.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued April 26, 1994.
Decided June 16, 1994.

Andrey Filipowicz (argued), Chicago, IL, for plaintiff-appellant.

Madeleine S. Murphy, Asst. State's Atty., Office of the U.S. Atty., Criminal Div., Michele M. Fox, Asst. U.S. Atty. (argued), Office of the U.S. Atty., Civil Div., Appellate Section, Chicago, IL, Joan C. Goodrich, U.S. Postal Service, Office of Labor Law, Washington, DC, for defendants-appellees.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and ESCHBACH and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.

Page 260

POSNER, Chief Judge.

The plaintiff, a black woman who suffers from schizophrenia and a hearing impairment, was fired by the Postal Service in 1986. She filed a charge with the EEOC alleging breach of contract, retaliatory discharge, and discrimination on grounds of race, sex, and handicap, and later this suit repeating these charges. The Postal Service offered to settle the suit for $50,000 plus attorney's fees of $25,000. At a hearing before the district judge Fleming said that the offer was "really not sitting in complete agreement with" her because she had lost more than $200,000 in wages and wanted her job back. The judge urged her to accept the offer, calling it "eminently reasonable," but said the decision was hers to make and that she should confer with her lawyer about it. The judge then turned to the other cases on his call. Later in the morning he called Fleming's case again. Her lawyer told the judge that they had conferred and that she had agreed to accept the settlement offer. Although present, she said nothing. The judge said that there was now a binding oral agreement to settle the case, which he dismissed with leave to reinstate within 30 days if the agreement was not reduced to writing. More than 30 days later Fleming asked that the case be reinstated because she did not "comprehend the significance of the written agreement." Her lawyer explained that Fleming thought she ought to be reinstated in her job as part of the settlement but realized she had entered into a binding oral agreement to settle the case without reinstatement.

The district judge denied the motion and Fleming received and cashed a check for $50,000; her lawyer (to whom presumably she had assigned her statutory entitlement to attorney's fees, as is common) received a check for $25,000. A couple of weeks after her check had been mailed to her and presumably after it had been cashed, although that date is not in the record, Fleming, no longer represented by counsel, filed a handwritten Rule 60(b) motion with the district judge. In it she claimed that she had been "confused, disoriented, and under a lot of pressure" at the settlement hearing and did not remember having instructed her lawyer to accept the Postal Service's offer. The judge denied the motion without a statement of reasons and Fleming then retained new counsel to prosecute this appeal.

The briefs have treated us to an elaborate tour of the principles that govern Rule 60(b), and when settlements or releases may be set aside, and what authority lawyers have to make settlements on behalf of their clients, and how insanity affects all this and what law governs these issues. We can cut through all this doctrinal thrust and parry by reminding the parties of one of the most elementary principles of contract law, strangely lost to sight in the jungle of doctrinal intricacies: that a party may not rescind a contract without returning to the other party any consideration received under it. Jackson v. Anderson, 355 Ill. 550, 189 N.E. 924, 926 (1934); Community Bank v. Calkins, 52 Ill.App.3d 759, 10 Ill.Dec. 444, 447, 367 N.E.2d 1053, 1056 (1977); Smith v. First National Bank, 254 Ill.App.3d 251, 191 Ill.Dec. 711, 722, 624 N.E.2d 899, 910 (1993). These are Illinois cases, and, as we noted in Fortino v. Quasar Co., 950 F.2d 389, 394-95 (7th Cir.1991), it remains unsettled in this circuit whether a dispute over the settlement of a federal case arises under state law--on the theory, for which the Supreme Court's decision in Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., --- U.S. ----, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994), provides support, that it is merely a contract dispute with a remote federal origin, Morgan v. South Bend Community School Corp., 797 F.2d 471, 475 (7th Cir.1986); McCall-Bey v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1178, 1185-86 (7th Cir.1985)--or under federal law, Lumpkin v. Envirodyne Industries, Inc., 933 F.2d 449, 458 (7th Cir.1991); and whether, if the latter, state law should be adopted as the...

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72 practice notes
  • Wheeler v. City of Santa Clara, Corp., No. 16-17375
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • July 3, 2018
    ...survives the death of a party. Rather, we apply a uniform rule of federal common law."); Fleming v. U.S. Postal Service AMF O'Hare , 27 F.3d 259, 262 (7th Cir. 1994) (holding that the 42 U.S.C. § 1988(a) does not apply to two modern civil rights statutes—Title VII and the Rehabilitatio......
  • Nordwall v. PHC-Las Cruces, Inc., No. CIV 12–0429 JB/WPL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 31, 2013
    ...Dist. LEXIS 2285, 2003 WL 430484, *3 (E.D.Ark. Feb. 14, 2003)). Judge Nelson relies on Fleming v. United States Postal Service AMF O'Hare, 27 F.3d 259, 262 (7th Cir.1994), in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, with the Honorable Richard Allen Posner, United St......
  • Revock v. Cowpet Bay W. Condo. Ass'n, No. 14-4776
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • March 31, 2017
    ...Section 1982 and the Fair Housing Act. Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 416-17 (1968). See also Fleming v. U.S. Postal Serv., 27 F.3d 259, 262 (7th Cir. 1994) (holding Section 1988 inapplicable to claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Rehabilitation Act of......
  • McClellan v. Midwest Machining, Inc., No. 17-1992
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 16, 2018
    ..., No. 10-10856, 2011 WL 6945729, at *7 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 6, 2011).Defendant relies on Fleming v. United States Postal Serv. AMF O’Hare , 27 F.3d 259 (7th Cir.1994), a pre- Oubre case, which held that the plaintiff in a Title VII case had to tender back payments received under a severance agr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
72 cases
  • Wheeler v. City of Santa Clara, Corp., No. 16-17375
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • July 3, 2018
    ...claim survives the death of a party. Rather, we apply a uniform rule of federal common law."); Fleming v. U.S. Postal Service AMF O'Hare , 27 F.3d 259, 262 (7th Cir. 1994) (holding that the 42 U.S.C. § 1988(a) does not apply to two modern civil rights statutes—Title VII and the Rehabilitati......
  • Nordwall v. PHC-Las Cruces, Inc., No. CIV 12–0429 JB/WPL.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • July 31, 2013
    ...Dist. LEXIS 2285, 2003 WL 430484, *3 (E.D.Ark. Feb. 14, 2003)). Judge Nelson relies on Fleming v. United States Postal Service AMF O'Hare, 27 F.3d 259, 262 (7th Cir.1994), in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, with the Honorable Richard Allen Posner, United St......
  • Revock v. Cowpet Bay W. Condo. Ass'n, No. 14-4776
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • March 31, 2017
    ...Section 1982 and the Fair Housing Act. Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409, 416-17 (1968). See also Fleming v. U.S. Postal Serv., 27 F.3d 259, 262 (7th Cir. 1994) (holding Section 1988 inapplicable to claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Rehabilitation Act of......
  • McClellan v. Midwest Machining, Inc., No. 17-1992
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 16, 2018
    ..., No. 10-10856, 2011 WL 6945729, at *7 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 6, 2011).Defendant relies on Fleming v. United States Postal Serv. AMF O’Hare , 27 F.3d 259 (7th Cir.1994), a pre- Oubre case, which held that the plaintiff in a Title VII case had to tender back payments received under a severance agr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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