¶ 17 We are aware that the annulment of the decision of a court of first instance in such a situation is neither usual nor taken lightly. However, if the findings of a court of first instance are not based on competent evidence, we must overturn them. Yaros, above; Bernhardt, III, P.C., loc. cit. At this time, Schaefer has not provided any evidence that the Kramers knew or had reason to believe that the settlement offer was extended only after the judgment because the adjuster did not know that the case had finally been heard. Further, without documentary evidence, we are not satisfied that Allstate made the offer solely in the belief that the matter has not yet been brought to court. At the claim hearing, which began on February 6, 2009, Gatto decided to represent himself. During the three-day hearing, Holmes and Gatto provided conflicting testimony on whether Holmes had express authority to settle Gatto`s claims against Verizon. ¶ 1 Given that the draftsman of the opinion of the majority has made a careful analysis and a clever expression of his opinion in his usual way, I hasten to agree with the majority`s decisions that this appeal is duly before this court and that the settlement agreement should be enforced. As the majority noted, the question of the enforceability of a purported settlement agreement must be decided by reference to established principles of contract law.
The verdict in this case was rendered by the jury on September 15, 1999, and two days later, on September 17, 1999, Allstate`s claims adjuster offered to settle the case for $3500. This offer was immediately accepted by counsel for the plaintiffs. Given that the offer was taken into consideration – the plaintiffs did not file post-trial claims or an appeal against a judgment subsequently included in the judgment – I would set aside the order of the Court of First Instance and order that this judgment be registered for the appellants of the amount of the settlement offer plus the legal interest, on the basis of the finding that an enforceable legal contract was concluded by the plaintiffs` lawyer and the expert in Claims. is complete. Nevertheless, how obvious the basis for the sanctions may be, based on the immediate record, I would not impose the sanctions set out in Philadelphia Civil Rule 229.1. After receiving Ryan`s confirmation, Holmes replied that Gatto was not happy with the deal and that, although he had no reason to worry, he wanted to talk to Gatto again. (Hrsg. Me at 23.) Ryan responded that throughout the negotiations, all parties understood Verizon`s terms and, and since Verizon accepted Gatto`s offer to settle $50,000, the matter had been resolved and, if necessary, a request to enforce the settlement agreement would be filed. (Id. at p. 24.) ¶ 1 Allen and Darlene Kramer (m/w) appealed to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas rejecting their request to enforce a settlement agreement and impose penalties for non-provision of settlement funds. We lift the sanctions and the granting of legal fees and detain them.
¶ 6 However, we must also determine whether a request to enforce a settlement offer or settlement agreement is a final order for the purpose of invoking our jurisdiction under the Pa.R.A.P. 341. Recently in Geniviva v. Frisk, 555 Pa. 589, 725 A.2d 1209 (1999), this Supreme Court was faced with the question of whether an order of the Common Pleas Court denying an application for approval of a pre-trial settlement was a collateral order that was lawfully under the Pa.R.A.P. could be challenged. 313. In the direct appeal, this court set aside the appeal and concluded that the order was neither final nor certain in accordance with our rules of appeal. The Supreme Court upheld this court`s decision by saying: ¶ 7 The distinguishing factor between this case and cases with facts similar to Geniviva is the time when the corresponding settlement offer was made. Currently, we deal with post-judgment bids, while Geniviva has applied its appeal rules to the provisional nature of the appeal against an order of a trial court that refused to execute/approve a settlement agreement before the trial.
In the first case, we acknowledge that the case has already been heard for a verdict, that the parties have already incurred the legal costs and that damages have been established. That said, we are still dealing with the costs of the appeal process and the appeal process in general, which requires not only the use of legal means, but also judicial resources. However, we do not believe that this Court should reach the same conclusion regarding the appealability of a settlement after judgment, which is based on case law dealing with the same issue in a pre-litigation tendering context. First, a benchmark does not have the same recourse to the enforcement of an offer after judgment as an aggrieved addressee. In the latter scenario, the party is free to ”raise the issue of the validity of the settlement agreement on appeal against the judgment on the underlying claim or in a parallel action.” Knisel, up to 256. In this case, that is exactly what the Kramers are now trying to achieve – verification of the binding nature of the settlement agreement, after the case has already been negotiated. Accordingly, we note that this appeal is duly pending before this court. It is timely and the order is final according to our court rules of appeal. See Pa.R.A.P.
341. 5. In fact, the Philadelphia Rules of Civil Procedure allude to such a scenario:Rule *229 Closure of Cases(C) The closure of a case after the occurrence of an unsolicited arbitration or after the registration of a judgment or judgment can only be obtained without the approval of the court by filing proceedings for the enforcement of the arbitral award, the judgment signed on behalf of the winning party or parties, can be reached. D) If a settlement has been settled, if an arbitral award, judgment or judgment has been rendered, or if the parties have agreed on another way to terminate the proceedings, the relevant practice(s) shall be filed within the following twenty (20) days, in which sanctions may be imposed. Phila. Civ. R. 229.
¶ 14 Allstate`s claims adjuster states that at the time she made the second offer to the Kramers` lawyer, she did not know the status of the assault case. More importantly, she did not know that the case had in fact been heard by a jury for a verdict that was monetarily in favor of Allstate`s insured, Schaefer. Even assuming that the second settlement offer would not have been made by Allstate if the adjuster had known that the matter had already been heard, we must determine from the minutes whether the Kramers` lawyer was aware of the unilateral error or had a good reason to know – namely, that the Allstate claims adjuster did not know, that the case had already been brought before the courts and that a judgment on zero damages had been rendered and that you knew of such facts, a second offer of settlement would not have been extended. In answering this question, we must bear in mind that it is Schaefer`s duty to clearly prove such an error in order to invalidate the agreement of the parties. Verizon provided a significant amount of evidence about the material terms of the settlement agreement and sought to demonstrate that Gatto was aware of those terms. It is clear to the court that the terms of the offer of mediation were understood by both parties at the time of the mediation. With respect to the mediation offer, it was assumed that any settlement agreement would include a full release of all of Gatto`s claims against Verizon, an agreement not to reapply with Verizon, a no-savings agreement, and a confidentiality agreement. It is also clear to the court that Holmes entered into a $50,000 agreement on behalf of his client, including these terms. However, the question before that court is whether Holmes Gattos expressly had the power to enter into a settlement agreement on those conditions.
3. In addition, the Kramers followed due process under philadelphia local court rules by filing a settlement enforcement application after the required time frame within which Schaefer should have offered the settlement funds had expired. See Phila. Civ. R. 229(D). In accordance with this rule, the Kramers filed a request for sanctions and the required affidavit and associated seizures. See Phila. Civ. R.
229(E)(2). ¶ 9 In this case, the Trial Court found that Allstate`s settlement offer lapsed after the judgment when Kramers rejected Schaefer`s pre-litigation settlement offer of the same amount, $3,500.00. In essence, the General Court held that the second tender was merely a reformulation of the first. This premise is based on the court`s conclusion and Schaefer`s assertion that Allstate`s adjuster made the second offer only because she felt the case had not yet been tried for a jury verdict. Under this assumption, the court states that ”any settlement according to a defense judgment is contrary to public policy and in fact gives the plaintiff two bites of the apple.