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Let Me Out of this Settlement Agreement!

When parties attend mediation and enter into a settlement agreement, sometimes they develop an uncomfortable feeling when they wake up the next morning that they were coerced into settling by the opposing party, the mediator, or their own attorney. Is it possible to overturn a settlement agreement you entered into at mediation?

Can litigants overturn a settlement agreement?

In a word: no. It is normal for litigants to develop a case of “buyer’s remorse” after any mediation. They may feel disappointed after entering into a settlement agreement, or feel that they received a bad deal. But in a vast majority of cases, your settlement is probably a good deal. In fact, it is probably a great deal because you are receiving something without having to risk losing. Remember, trial can be a crap-shoot, and nothing is worse than losing it all come time of trial.

So instead, you entered into a settlement agreement and now your case is over. But beware, trying to get out of a settlement agreement reached at mediation is virtually impossible. Why? Well, there is a strong interest by the court to enforce settlement agreements. The court wants your case to be over and off its docket. There are a few very narrow exceptions; for example, if one party was truly coerced because someone held a gun to their head. But that rarely happens, and it certainly didn’t happen to you.

Of course, you can fight against your settlement agreement if you like, but you won’t get too far. There’s an old adage in the law that a bad settlement is better than a great trial. That’s because no one knows how a judge will rule come time of trial.