Buyer’s Remorse Does Not Allow Plaintiff to Avoid Mediated Settlement

May 28, 2014 | Amelia M. Leckey

Morant v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada 2014 ONSC 2876

The plaintiff commenced an action against Sun Life seeking payment of LTD benefits.   The action was settled at mediation.   All parties were represented by counsel at the time the settlement was reached.   Minutes of Settlement and a Full and Final Release were executed at the mediation.  Settlement funds were sent to counsel for the plaintiff shortly thereafter, and deposited in the lawyer’s trust account. 

A few weeks later counsel for the plaintiff advised he had instructions from the plaintiff indicating she wished to resile from the settlement, and that counsel would be bringing a motion to have the settlement set aside.   No such motion was brought.  Instead Sun Life brought a motion seeking to enforce the settlement. 

In response to the motion the plaintiff did not swear an affidavit.   The only responding affidavit was in the name of the lawyer for the plaintiff.  He stated that the plaintiff had advised him she had been in physical and emotional pain during the mediation, was very fatigued, and felt unduly stressed and pressured during the entire mediation process. 

In enforcing the settlement the motions judge stated “At its highest the plaintiff has put forward evidence that she had a change of heart or what could be described as ‘buyer’s remorse’ approximately three weeks after the conclusion of the settlement…This does not constitute proper grounds for the setting aside of a properly concluded settlement.” 

The judge went on to note that no evidence was offered to support the assertion the plaintiff was medically unfit at the time she agreed to the settlement.   While a court could exercise discretion to set aside an unconscionable or fraudulent settlement, that was not applicable to the case at bar.  Further, there was no indication counsel for the plaintiff did not have authority to settle the matter, or that Sun Life was aware of any limitation with respect to counsel’s authority.  As such the plaintiff was held to the bargain that she made. 

 

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