LITIGATION 5: The trial court properly relied on defense counsel’s representation because an attorney speaks for his client.

This appeal arises from damage that occurred to plaintiff’s property in Highland Park and the parties’ subsequent agreement to settle plaintiff’s inverse condemnation claim. The parties placed the terms of the settlement on the record, agreeing that the settlement was for $10,000 subject to City Council approval as are all municipal settlements.

Generally, only the city council can bind a municipal corporation to a contract.

Several months later, plaintiff moved for entry of a consent judgment pursuant to MCR 2.602(B)(4). Although defense counsel objected to entry of the order, he reported to the trial court that the city council approved the settlement.

The trial court then entered an order settling the consent judgment, which stated that the parties stipulated, on the record, to settle plaintiff’s inverse condemnation claim for $10,000, and that the settlement was approved by defendant’s city council.

Defendant filed a motion for reconsideration and argued that the consent judgment did not comport with the parties’ agreement. The trial court denied defendant’s motion for reconsideration because it determined that the parties agreed to the terms of the consent judgment on the record.

Defendant first argues that the trial court abused its discretion because the city council did not approve the settlement agreement before the trial court’s entry of the consent judgment.

Defense counsel’s agreement to the settlement at the settlement conference did not bind defendant to the terms of the agreement because, at that point, defendant’s city council had not approved the settlement agreement.  However, at the subsequent hearing, defense counsel reported to the trial court that defendant’s city council had approved the settlement. The trial court properly relied on defense counsel’s representation because an attorney speaks for his client.

Despite acknowledging approval by defendant’s city council, defense counsel also stated that we don’t know the terms of it. The unknown terms appear to only involve whether the judgment would be paid periodically or from the tax rolls. The trial court stated that, however defendant decides to pay it, it agreed to pay the amount of the judgment. We agree that the ambiguity regarding the timing of the payment or payments does not negate the fact that defendant’s city council approved the settlement amount.

Because the trial court relied on defense counsel’s statement that defendant’s city council approved the settlement agreement, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by entering the consent judgment.

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