Appeals Court Holds Attorney Email Accepting Settlement Offer Binding On Client
On July 8, 2021, the Appellate Division, First Department reversed a Manhattan Judge who refused to enforce a settlement via email between counsel, simply because plaintiff's counsel failed to retype his name on the email agreeing to the settlement offer of $400,000. Plaintiff's counsel revoked his acceptance after an Arbitrator awarded his client $975,000 claiming his client had not signed the General Release. The issue involves varying interpretations of CPLR 2104 which defines binding "Stipulations" as follows: "An agreement between parties or their attorneys relating to any matter in an action...is not binding upon a party UNLESS it is in a writing subscribed by him or his attorney...." (emphasis added)
The appeals court explained: "We now hold that this distinction between prepopulated and retyped signatures in emails reflects a needless formality that does not reflect how law is commonly practiced today. It is not the signoff that indicates whether the parties intended to reach a settlement via email, but rather the fact that the email was sent." Matter of Philadelphia Ins. Indem. Co. v Kendall, 2021 NY Slip Op 04284
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