Court of Chancery finds that Settlement Agreement in estate dispute represents “a binding agreement to agree”

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted September 5, 2023

In re: Estate of John T. Landon, Jr., C.A. 5230-VCZ (August 28, 2023)

          This case involves an estate dispute between a second wife and the children of the first marriage. John T. Landon (“John”) died on March 30, 2006.  On January 25, 2010, the executors of John’s estate and children from his first marriage, Keith B. Landon and Ann L. Richter (together, “Petitioners”), filed this case in order to seek instructions regarding the disposition of three properties between a life estate for Martha Landon, John’s second wife, and the remainder interests for John’s children.

          More than five years ago, on June 8, 2017, then-Magistrate in Chancery Zurn issued a final report concluding that the Petitioners and Martha, via her son Robert L. Moore Jr. holding her power of attorney, had reached an enforceable settlement agreement. In 2017, this blog wrote about that opinion at

          Although the three-page settlement agreement at issue could seem simple at first glance, both parties communicated to the court that the agreement had “many loose ends to finalize.” Indeed, years have gone by and the settlement remains inchoate. In particular, the parties have been unable to agree on the language for the reciprocal releases that the settlement agreement requires.

          In issuing this Order Enforcing Settlement Agreement in August of 2023, Vice Chancellor Zurn focused entirely on the language of the 2018 Settlement Agreement itself and found that “the 2018 Settlement Agreement is a binding agreement to agree” and that any party seeking to continue this action has 20 days in which to “show cause as to why it should not be dismissed after five years of failing to finalize the agreement’s releases under Court of Chancery 41(e).” Court of Chancery Rule 41(e) provides for the dismissal of actions that are inactive for a year or more.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.