Oral Argument: January 6, 2015.
Appeal from Snohomish Superior Court. Docket No: 11-2-05911-0. Judge signing: Honorable Mary Elizabeth Dingledy. Judgment or order under review. Date filed: 07/03/2013.
Michael A. Jacobson (of Michael A. Jacobson PS ), for appellants.
John Frawley, for respondents.
Authored by Michael J. Trickey. Concurring: Stephen J. Dwyer, Mary Kay Becker.
[186 Wn.App. 915] Michael J. Trickey, J.
[¶1] -- Civil Rule 2A precludes enforcement of a settlement agreement where there is a genuine dispute of material fact regarding the existence of the agreement. Under principles of contract law, which govern settlement agreements, mutual assent is an essential element for the formation, or existence, of a valid agreement. Here, the plaintiffs demonstrated a question of material fact as to the validity of plaintiff Gilberto Ramirez's assent by presenting [186 Wn.App. 916] evidence that the defendant and his attorney induced Ramirez's assent through deceptive, coercive, or otherwise wrongful tactics. In so doing, the plaintiffs established a material dispute over the existence of the settlement agreement. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's decision denying enforcement of the alleged settlement agreement.
[¶2] On June 9, 2011, Manuel Cruz, Ramirez, and Epifanio Rios (collectively plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against their former employer, Abel Chavez and Chavez Landscaping
LLC (collectively Chavez), alleging that Chavez withheld and underpaid wages owed to them. According to the plaintiffs' trial memoranda, the plaintiffs worked as landscape employees for Chavez. The plaintiffs, who came from Mexico and speak no English, claimed that Chavez took advantage of them throughout their employment.
[¶3] At all relevant times throughout the litigation, attorney John Frawley represented the plaintiffs and attorney Michael Jacobson represented Chavez.
[¶4] The case proceeded through arbitration. In April 2012, the trial court entered an arbitration award in favor of the plaintiffs. According to the plaintiffs' trial memoranda, ...