What is a motion to enforce a settlement agreement?

“What is a motion to enforce a settlement agreement?”

A motion to enforce a settlement agreement is where we are asking a court to enforce the terms of a settlement — to make the defendant do what the defendant promised when it settled.

A case gets settled and sometimes we don’t have the settlement agreement already finalized.  Or we do and the company we have sued wants to add terms and conditions that we never agreed to.

The most common example is wanting “super confidentiality” so we can never talk about the case.

We don’t agree to this and the companies we sue know this.  So after we settle, they then “insist” on super confidentiality or they won’t pay what they agreed to pay.

Settlement agreement means what it says

Settlement agreement means what it says

(Because you — and us as your attorneys — cannot ever even mention the lawsuit or we all get sued by the bad guys.  Crazy, right?)

They think they can blackmail us into agreeing to this to get the settlement money.

We have a much simpler and faster solution.

We go to the federal judge and ask that the settlement agreement be enforced — and often we are heading to sanctions against the companies who think they are above the law.

There was one company that admitted to the judge this was not a term but that they had the right to add it because they are a company.

The federal judge told them to either honor their agreement or:

  • Fly their CEO to Birmingham
  • Fly their General Counsel (top lawyer for company) to Birmingham
  • Bring paper copies of every settlement agreement in the country
  • Be there in court at 8 am on a Friday
  • They would sit there till about 4pm
  • Then the judge promised that they would be miserable flying back home Friday night

They immediately agreed to do what they promised to do.

You see these collection agencies or credit reporting companies, etc. are so arrogant they think they can get away with anything — we have to hold their feet to the fire.

You staying strong on the settlement and never bending to this stupid “super confidentiality” is key.

Hey, if these jokers don’t want to settle, that’s fine.

But if they settle, then it turns out they lied, we hammer them in federal court for this.

If you are ready to sue one of these companies — mortgage, debt collector, someone blowing up your cell phone, etc. — and if you are committed to getting what you are entitled to get, then give us a call.

1-205-879-2447 or you can contact us through our website and we’ll get right back to you.

Thanks for reading this — talk to you soon.

John G. Watts


  1. Bob T. says:

    Why would you have to file a MTESA in federal court when the examples given are typically civil matters filed in state courts? Could you not file a MTESA in state court?

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your excellent question.

      Here’s the rule:

      Whatever court you are in, that’s where you file the motion to enforce the settlement agreement.

      So if your case is pending in state court, you file the motion there.

      If your case is in federal court, you file it in federal court.

      Most (but not all) of our consumer related cases are in federal court. That’s why the examples I used are in federal court.

      But any of those cases could have been filed in state court.

      Hope that answers your question and thanks again for your comment!

      John Watts

  2. Jamie K. says:

    Hi John,

    Are there any preliminary actions that need to be taken if you case was settled, before filing the motion to enforce? IE: Sending a certified letter to their counsel, and then waiting an additional 30 days?

    Thanks in advance for any information.

    • John Watts says:


      That’s a good idea — sending a letter. It all depends though on what has happened. Sometimes the other side simply tells you they are changing the terms and you have to live with it. No letter needed then.

      Other times there is a fight over a term that wasn’t expressly discussed and a letter might help.

      So it all depends but your suggestion is a very good one to use.


      John Watts

  3. barbara Evans says:

    all this is about the defendants but I was as a employees forced into pursuing my loss of wage claim into a circuit court as the “plaintiff” by my employers Oregon DHS and their joint contract holder, LCOG (Lane County Council of Govts) to get my loss wages and then they pursued with my attorney who has withdrawn as my attorney and im now having to file a complaint against him with the Oregon State Bar while Im having to deal with an enforced settlement “agreement and RELEASE of Claims” that was granted by the circuit court Judge who knew I had no legal representation and did not grant me an extention of time to pursue obtaining legal counsel and without any explaination of why(!!) he did that…and all the reasons you use for the defendants , I am in exactly that position but as a plaintiff …I need case law to support my appeal from this awful judgment to continue to have this heard in a court of law/////HELP if you can to refer to labor disputes where employers refused to settle in tort or small claims and put the burden on me as a plaintiff because they wanted it heard in circuit court with jury trial forcing me to get the money to pay the court to file

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry you had to sue to get your missing pay and then had to deal with this.

      You need an Oregon lawyer ASAP — I don’t know the case law in Oregon as I’m not licensed there and I just don’t know how this would work there.

      It sounds like you got a raw deal so I hope an Oregon lawyer can help you undo this mess quickly.

      Sorry I can’t help but keep looking for the right Oregon lawyer.

      John Watts

  4. Charles says:

    I recently settled a case, but I have two other claims pending, I was really misrepresented by a law firm, and they indicated to me that my other two claims may not get carved out because incident inform them before I settled. The city filed a motion to force the settlement upon me. Do you know what happens next? I’m trying to get my other two claims excluded out.

    • John Watts says:


      Sounds like you settled one case but the settlement agreement said, basically, all claims you had were settled. So the city is now saying the other two claims are settled. Is that right?

      Definitely get with your lawyers on this (assuming they still represent you) — it becomes complicated with lots of exceptions when you are in this situation. Definitely have to check through all emails and see what was said and when by whom to figure it out.

      I’m assuming you are in Alabama — the law here is (normally) that if you or your lawyers agreed to the settlement, it is done. Now if you agreed to settle one claim, but the settlement agreement then showed all three and you refused to sign it, I think a judge will give you a chance to be heard on that.

      But if you signed the settlement agreement, I think it is unlikely the judge allows you to back out of that.

      Best wishes — hope you get it worked out.

      John Watts

  5. Mary McCaleb-Herbert says:

    We have a settlement agreement with our previous mortgage company (federal court, southern district, Mississippi). They are in breach, have commited nondisclosure fraud. We cannot get our previous lawyer to file motions. Magistrate judge was none to happy with us when we represented ourselves pro se.

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry you are dealing with this.

      Have you written to your lawyer? Emailed? Called? Visited your lawyer’s office?

      If it is not a communication problem but a problem of the lawyer not feeling there is a valid basis for it, then your lawyer may want to withdraw from the case. It is kind of awkward to have a lawyer in the case but the party shows up to the federal court in front of the magistrate judge.

      I would have a detailed chat with your lawyer to find out your options and if he or she is out of the picture, find you a lawyer in MS to help you.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  6. Jackie says:

    What if your ex souse had 7 days to pay all that was agreed upon within stipulation an “B” such as student loans, credit card now 5 years later daughter are receiving collections letter while ruining there credit report,


    • John Watts says:


      So this would be under the domestic relations court’s authority when dealing with your ex. If he was obligated to pay, and didn’t, then get with your divorce lawyer.

      Now from your daughter’s perspective — is she being collected on personally or is she just getting collection notices for her dad?

      If she is getting personally collected on, that’s not wrong from the standpoint of whoever she owes the money to. Because the divorce judge can’t change contracts between your daughter and student loan places etc. But it is more evidence of damages against your ex if he by not paying got his daughter into this situation.

      Best wishes with this and definitely get back with your lawyer to figure out your next step.


  7. Ben says:

    I was a motocross racer and during a simple tumble I became paralyzed. We discovered it was due to safety equipment malfunction, basically I’d of been better off not wearing a seatbelt. Fast forward we recently settled and of course the insurance companies want their money back, but the lawyers are responsible for that. It took a couple months to get the settlement agreement ready to sign, but all of the sudden Medicare wants to add something on top of what was previously agreed upon. My lawyers just filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement but don’t want to give me a ballpark figure of how much longer this will take. It’s gotten to the point where my lawyers are attempting to help get me a loan to hold me over.

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry for your injury and now this delay. Your lawyers likely don’t know how long it will be as they are at the mercy of when the court makes a decision. The judge — the one with the black robes — can decide quickly or take months.

      I know it can be frustrating but I suspect your lawyers are doing everything they can to get this handled NOW. They won’t get paid until you do unless you have an unusual contract with them.

      Hang in there and I hope it gets resolved very quickly!

      John Watts

  8. Kelly says:

    After two long years, a settlement agreement was finally reached. One of my sister’s and her husband sued me and another sister over my fathers will – before he had even passed.

    Anyway, we agreed to a settlement amount- all i’s dotted and T’s crossed. As the defendants, we completed everything that was asked for in the settlement and signed it on May 15th. Our attorney has been trying to get the plaintiffs attorney to write up the dismissal with prejudice. He other counsel says that he will get to it, but it has been almost 2 months and the other counsel has refused to do anything. Our attorney wants to file a motion to make them do this- again- a big expense to us to have to file a motion. Is there anything that can be done? This was a very painful lawsuit and the financial strain was huge- we had to settle as our attorney explained the costs of going to court – whether we won or lose- would be double.

    What can we do? The sister who is suing us has a husband who is just a Bully and has made all of his money off other people- by dragging them into court-

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry you guys are going through this. I can’t give you any advice directly as so much depends on what has happened specifically in your case, how your judge likes to handle things, etc.

      I would think there is a chance if you have to spend money to file a motion to enforce a settlement agreement maybe you can get the judge to award that back to you.

      I know this is very frustrating — wish you the best in getting a quick and easy outcome to what has been a long journey for you.

      John Watts

  9. Debra Williams/ Ross says:

    Oakland housing authority agree to settle my claim, but breach there settlement contact. How can I get help here in Oakland

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