Raghavendrav.Trustees of D.C. Univ.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUITSep 8, 2011
434 Fed. Appx. 31 (2d Cir. 2011)

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Nos. 10-825-CV (L), 10-833-cv (CON), 10-887-cv (CON).

September 8, 2011.

Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Crotty, J.).

UPON DUE CONSIDERATION, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the order of the district court be AFFIRMED IN PART and VACATED AND REMANDED IN PART.

Robert G. Leino, New York, NY, for Appellant.

Edward A. Brill (Susan D. Friedfel, on the brief), Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, NY, for Appellees.

PRESENT: DENNIS JACOBS, Chief Judge, ROGER J. MINER, and ROBERT A. KATZMANN, Circuit Judges.



SUMMARY ORDER

Rajagopala Raghavendra appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Crotty, /.), denying his motion to set aside his settlement agreement with his former employer, Columbia University, and ruling that plaintiffs counsel was entitled to recover a contingency fee as specified in his retainer agreement. We assume the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts, the procedural history, and the issues presented for review.

We review de novo the district court's legal conclusions with respect to the settlement agreement; we review its factual conclusions "under the clearly erroneous standard of review." Omega Eng'g, Inc. v. Omega, S.A., 432 F.3d 437, 443 (2d Cir. 2005). A district court "may exercise supplemental jurisdiction to hear fee disputes between litigants and their attorneys when the dispute relates to the main action." Alderman v. Pan Am World Airways, 169 F.3d 99, 102 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted). This Court reviews a district court's decision to award fees under an abuse of discretion standard. Id.

The district court properly held that the settlement agreement was binding, enforceable, and disposed of all of plaintiffs claims against the defendants. See Powell v. Omnicom, 497 F.3d 124, 129 (2d Cir. 2007) (stating "settlement remains binding even if a party has a change of heart" after he agreed to the terms of the settlement). Plaintiffs claims of fraud and duress are not substantiated by the record.

The district court's exercise of supplemental jurisdiction over the fee dispute was proper. See Achtman v. Kirby, McInerney Squire, LLP, 464 F.3d 328, 336 (2d Cir. 2006) (observing that district courts have "power to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a fee dispute" and that "the lower court's familiarity with the subject matter of the [underlying] suit len[ds] support to the exercise of jurisdiction" (internal quotation marks omitted)). However, we vacate and remand in part, for the district court to make further factual findings that bear upon the award of fees including, inter alia, the timing of the commencement of counsel's representation and the pendency of other cases, litigated pro se, that are folded into the settlement.

Payment of the settlement amount will abide the determination of the fee dispute in light of the district court's findings.

Having considered all of Raghavendra's properly presented arguments, we hereby

AFFIRM IN PART the order of the district court, because we find that the settlement agreement was binding and disposed of all of plaintiffs claims, and VACATE the award of attorneys fees and REMAND for further factual findings consistent with this order.