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Where Defendants are seeking to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims on the basis of a settlement agreement, the burden is on the Defendants to prove that there is a valid agreement which bars the claims, such that "the facts establishing the defense [are] clear 'on the face of the plaintiff's pleadings.'" Santana-Castro v. Toledo-Davila, 579 F.3d 109, 114 (1st Cir. 2009)
Plaintiff William McCormick (hereinafter "William") was a freshman student on a full scholarship at Brown University ("Brown") when, he alleges, Defendant Marcella Dresdale, then a fellow Brown freshman, falsely accused him of misconduct, including rape. The accusation, however, was not made to law enforcement authorities, but rather to college administrators. The accusation fairly quickly resulted in William's "withdrawal" from Brown and the corresponding loss of his full scholarship. William filed suit, joined by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. McCormick ("the parents"), against Brown University, a number of Brown's agents (collectively the "Brown Defendants"), and the Dresdales. The Dresdales filed a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a clam upon which relief could be granted, asserting the affirmative defense of release and waiver. The Dresdales attached to their motion a copy of the "Confidential Settlement Agreement and General Release" signed by William, which purports to release all legal claims he and his parents may have held against the Dresdales arising out of this incident.
Should the motion to dismiss filed by the Dresdales be granted?
The Court denied the Dresdales' motion to dismiss, as the Dresdales did not meet their burden to demonstrate that on the face of the pleadings (and taking all of the averments in the First Amended Complaint as true) the Agreement is supported by valid consideration. In particular, Plaintiffs clearly alleged that the claims forgone by the Dresdales, in consideration for William's release of the same, were false and made in bad faith.