Jones v. McDaniel

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-10-2013
  • Case #: 10-16658
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judge Tallman and District Judge Rosenthal
  • Full Text Opinion

If a party enters into a settlement agreement which was executed "in full satisfaction of the final judgment" it “resolves all facets of their dispute,” that party cannot later appeal one of the claims resolved in the agreement, as the settlement agreement renders the claim moot.

Christopher Jones was punished while he was incarcerated for writing a letter to other inmates, which encouraged them to join his class action lawsuit against the prison officials. After serving his punishment for writing the letter, Jones filed a lawsuit against the prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated. Jones won a partial summary judgment with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment claim, but lost the First Amendment claim. After the trial in which the jury awarded Jones both punitive and nominal damages; Jones and the prison officials signed a settlement agreement. In the settlement agreement, “Jones received $11,000 plus costs and attorney’s fees, as well as expungement of the record of the violation, ‘in full satisfaction of the judgment entered herein.’” After entering into the agreement, Jones appealed the adverse First Amendment summary judgment of the district court. The Ninth Circuit held that the settlement agreement “‘resolved all facets of their dispute,’ including Jones’ First Amendment claims, thereby rendering this appeal moot.” The panel explained that normally a partial summary judgment order that had been merged with a final order is appealable; but, in Jones’ case, the partial summary judgment order is not appealable because the settlement agreement was executed “‘in full satisfaction’ of the final judgment.” The court further explained that “we have held in related contexts that ‘[i]n general, a party cannot appeal a judgment entered with its consent’ unless it ‘specifically preserves its right to appeal’.” Jones failed to reserve his right to appeal or exclude the First Amendment claim from the settlement agreement, and the circumstances surrounding the agreement confirm that Jones intended to settle all claims arising from the suit, including the First Amendment claim, at the time he entered the settlement agreement. DISMISSED.

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