Jones v. Brady, CAAP-21-0000220

CourtCourt of Appeals of Hawai'i
Citation151 Hawai‘i 134,508 P.3d 1220 (Table)
Docket NumberCAAP-21-0000220
Parties Michael G. JONES and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, AS TRUSTEES OF the MICHAEL G. JONES AND JENNIFER O. JOHNSTON-JONES FAMILY TRUST DATED MARCH 15, 2007, Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants-Appellees, v. Colleen O'Shea BRADY, Defendant/Counterclaimant/Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, individually, Third-Party Defendants-Appellees
Decision Date19 May 2022

151 Hawai‘i 134
508 P.3d 1220 (Table)

Michael G. JONES and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, AS TRUSTEES OF the MICHAEL G. JONES AND JENNIFER O. JOHNSTON-JONES FAMILY TRUST DATED MARCH 15, 2007, Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants-Appellees,
v.
Colleen O'Shea BRADY, Defendant/Counterclaimant/Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, individually, Third-Party Defendants-Appellees

NO. CAAP-21-0000220

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawai‘i.

May 19, 2022


On the briefs:

John F. Parker, for Defendant/ Counterclaimant/Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant Colleen O'Shea Brady.

Sunny S. Lee, Kelly A. Higa Brown, for Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants-Appellees Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, as Trustees of the Michael D. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones Family Trust Dated March 15, 2007, and Third-Party Defendants-Appellees Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, individually.

(By: Leonard, Presiding Judge, Hiraoka and McCullen, JJ.)

Affirmed.MEMORANDUM OPINION

Defendant/Counterclaimant/Third-Party Plaintiff-Appellant Colleen O'Shea Brady appeals from the (1) "Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement" (Order Granting Motion to Enforce ) entered by the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit on March 18, 2021;1 and (2) "Order Denying Defendant/Counterclaimant Colleen O'Shea Brady's Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Oral Order (Written Order Not Yet Filed) Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Enforcement of Settlement Agreement" (Order Denying Reconsideration ) entered by the circuit court on June 10, 2021.2 For the reasons explained below, we affirm the Order Granting Motion to Enforce and the Order Denying Reconsideration.

BACKGROUND

The action below began on May 22, 2017, when Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants-Appellees Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones, as Trustees of the Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones Family Trust Dated March 15, 2007 (collectively, Trustees ) filed a complaint against Brady. The complaint alleged that Trustees owned a 99% undivided interest, and Brady owned a 1% undivided interest, in real property located in Ha‘iku, Maui (the Property ). The complaint sought partition of the Property under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS ) Chapter 668. An amended complaint was filed on April 16, 2018, which added claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and promissory estoppel.

Brady answered the amended complaint on April 23, 2018, demanded a jury trial, and asserted a counterclaim against Trustees and a third-party complaint against Michael G. Jones and Jennifer O. Johnston-Jones individually.

On January 29, 2021, after more than three years of litigation, Trustees filed a "Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement." The motion was heard on February 18, 2021. The circuit court orally granted the motion. On February 22, 2021, Brady moved for reconsideration of the circuit court's oral order.

The circuit court entered the Order Granting Motion to Enforce on March 18, 2021. The order stated:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Plaintiffs' Motion is GRANTED as follow[s]:

1. The Court finds that there is no genuine issue of material fact that Brady is in breach of the Settlement Agreement and further finds that Brady has not refuted that she breached the Settlement Agreement by not sending out the documents required under its terms.

2. Brady is ordered to execute and mail the Quitclaim Deed that was attached as Exhibit "A" to the Settlement Agreement to Fidelity National Title & Escrow of Hawaii ... as required under Section I.A.5. of the Settlement Agreement within two business days after entry of this Order.

3. Brady is ordered to execute and mail the stipulation for dismissal that was attached as Exhibit "B" to the Settlement Agreement to Plaintiffs' counsel ... within two business days after entry of this Order.

4. Brady is ordered to execute and mail tax form P-64A to Plaintiffs' counsel ... within two business days after entry of this Order.

5. Brady is also ordered to execute any and all documents as may be required by the Bureau of Conveyances or Escrow to effectuate the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

The circuit court entered the Order Denying Reconsideration on June 10, 2021. This appeal followed.3

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment standards apply to a motion to enforce a settlement agreement. Moran v. Guerreiro, 97 Hawai‘i 354, 371, 37 P.3d 603, 620 (App. 2001). Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Nozawa v. Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3, 142 Hawai‘i 331, 342, 418 P.3d 1187, 1198 (2018). A fact is material if proof of that fact would have the effect of establishing or refuting one of the essential elements of a cause of action or defense asserted by the parties. Id. Once a summary judgment movant has satisfied its initial burden of producing support for its claim that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the party opposing summary judgment must "demonstrate specific facts, as opposed to general allegations, that present a genuine issue worthy of trial." Id. (citations omitted). The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id.

"[T]he construction and legal effect to be given a contract is a question of law freely reviewable by an appellate court." Balogh v. Balogh, 134 Hawai‘i 29, 37, 332 P.3d 631, 639 (2014).

POINTS ON APPEAL

Brady raises three points on appeal:

"A. The Circuit Court unreasonably denied Ms. Brady's right to Counsel";

"B. [Trustees] negated the purported January 18, 2021 settlement agreement"; and

"C. The trial Court erred by not conducting an evidentiary hearing."

DISCUSSION

A. Brady was not denied a right to counsel.

Brady was represented by counsel when she answered Trustees' original complaint and asserted a counterclaim on June 26, 2017. Withdrawals and substitutions of her counsel were filed on September 7, 2017, and March 12, 2018. On September 6, 2018, Brady's then-counsel moved to withdraw. On November 2, 2018, the circuit court entered an order granting the motion to withdraw.

On November 13, 2018, Brady's new counsel filed a notice of appearance. On April 11, 2019, another withdrawal and substitution of counsel was filed. On June 25, 2019, Brady's then-counsel moved to withdraw. On August 7, 2019, the circuit court entered an order granting the motion to withdraw.

On July 30, 2019, lawyer John F. Parker filed a document as attorney for Brady. Parker did not file a notice of appearance, but thereafter signed and filed 26 documents as attorney for Brady. On October 24, 2019, Parker filed a motion to withdraw, stating that "[a]n irreconcilable difference exists" between...

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