Woman not allowed to back out of her nondisclosure agreement in settlement with health center, Michigan court rules

By Charmaine Little | Jun 19, 2018

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) – The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a trial court did not abuse its discretion when it approved a settlement between a woman and a health care facility in a negligence suit.

According to the court's June 12 opinion, Plaintiff Keisha Johnson-Davis came to an agreement with the Heartland Health Care Center on behalf of Charles Johnson, who fell when he tried to get out of bed without help during his stay at a nursing home facility ran by Heartland Health Care Center.

Johnson-Davis ultimately filed the lawsuit on behalf of Johnson and was able to come to an agreement with the defendant, which included a nondisclosure agreement that banned both parties from discussing the details of the settlement. Johnson-Davis was prohibited from discussing the details with anyone except her attorney, accountants and heirs.

Johnson-Davis maintained she didn’t agree to the nondisclosure portion of the court order and its penalties and requested the lower court remove it. The trial court denied the motion and the appeals court affirmed its decision.

The appeals court stated there’s no uncertainty or question of whether the plaintiff reached the agreement with the defendant and that the trial court approved the agreement, including the nondisclosure portion. Considering this, the appeals court stated the trial court did not “extend the settlement to matters not included in the agreement,” in its decision according to the opinion. Rather, the trial court aligned with the terms of the agreement and did no more than confirm what both the plaintiff and defendant already agreed upon between themselves.

While the plaintiff argued she never concurred to add the nondisclosure provision into the trial court’s order and instead said they would depend on an ambiguous agreement, the appeals court determined her submission of a prior settlement agreement was irrelevant.

It also disagreed with the plaintiff’s statement “that incorporating the nondisclosure provision as part of the trial court’s order ‘improperly changed the agreed upon terms’” as it relates to the penalties if either party breaches the agreement, according to the opinion. It reiterated the trial court only confirmed the details of the settlement the parties already decided.

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