Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6 authorizes the Court to enforce a settlement agreement when the parties have signed a written agreement or the parties have orally stipulated to the settlement agreement in a Court proceeding. This allows the Court to enter a judgment pursuant to the terms of the settlement.
“Section 664.6 was enacted to provide a summary procedure for specifically enforcing a settlement contract without the need for a new lawsuit. [Citation.] . . . Although a judge hearing a section 664.6 motion may receive evidence, determine disputed facts, and enter the terms of a settlement agreement as a judgment [citations], nothing in section 664.6 authorizes a judge to create the material terms of a settlement, as opposed to deciding what terms the parties themselves have previously agreed upon. [¶] In order to be enforceable pursuant to the summary procedures of section 664.6, a settlement agreement must either be entered into orally before a court (a possibility not involved here) or must be in writing and signed by the parties. The reason for the party-signature requirement is that ‘settlement is such a serious step that it requires the client's knowledge and express consent. (1 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (3d ed. 1985) Attorneys, § 194, pp. 221-222.)’ [Citation.] ‘ . . . in 1981 . . . the Legislature enacted section 664.6, which created a summary, expedited procedure to enforce settlement agreements when certain requirements that decrease the likelihood of misunderstandings are met. Thus the statute requires the 'parties' to stipulate in writing or orally before the court that they have settled the case. The litigants' direct participation tends to ensure that the settlement is the result of their mature reflection and deliberate assent. This protects the parties against hasty and improvident settlement agreements by impressing upon them the seriousness and finality of the decision to settle, and minimizes the possibility of conflicting interpretations of the settlement. (See In re Marriage of Assemi [(1994)] 7 Cal.4th [896,] 905 [30 Cal.Rptr.2d 265, 872 P.2d 1190]; City of Fresno v. Maroot [(1987)] 189 Cal.App.3d [755,] 762 [234 Cal.Rptr. 353]; Datatronic Systems Corp. v. Speron, Inc. [(1986)] 176 Cal.App.3d [1168,] 1174 [222 Cal.Rptr. 658].) It also protects parties from impairment of their substantial rights without their knowledge and consent. (See Blanton v. Womancare, Inc. [(1985)] 38 Cal.3d [396,] 404 [212 Cal.Rptr. 151, 696 P.2d 645, 48 A.L.R.4th 109].) [Fn. omitted.]’ [Citation.]” (Weddington Productions, Inc. v. Flick (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 793, 809-811.)
“‘[T]he request for retention of jurisdiction must conform to the same three requirements which the Legislature and the courts have deemed necessary for section 664.6 enforcement of the settlement itself: the request must be made (1) during the pendency of the case, not after the case has been dismissed in its entirety, (2) by the parties themselves, and (3) either in a writing signed by the parties or orally before the court.’” (Sayta v. Chu (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 960, 965, 966.) It is not enough that the parties “confer jurisdiction on trial courts by including language in a settlement agreement but not asking the court to retain jurisdiction.” (Hagan Engineering, Inc. v. Mills (2003) 115 Cal.App.4th 1004, 1010.)
The phrase “settlement of the case,” as used in Section 664.6, refers to settlements not yet reduced to judgment, i.e., agreements to end the litigation by way of a “settlement agreement” rather than a judgment. (See, e.g., Weddington Productions, Inc. v. Flick (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 793, 809.) Section 664.6’s summary procedure to obtain judgment may be utilized only where a settlement is reached in a pending litigation; it cannot be used to enforce a settlement reached before suit was filed. (Kirby v. Southern Calif. Edison Co. (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 840, 845, [release executed before suit filed could not be enforced under section 664.6 to obtain dismissal]; Housing Group v. United Nat'l Ins. Co. (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1106 (absent pending litigation, parties cannot stipulate that settlement reached in ADR be entered as court judgment, hence no enforcement under CCP § 664.6).)
Strict compliance with the statutory requirements is necessary before a court can enforce a settlement agreement under Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6. (Sully-Miller Contracting Co. v. Gledson/Cashman Construction, Inc. (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 30, 37.)
“Where the contract shows time was not deemed to be of the essence, equity may decree specific performance although the act was done after the date fixed in the contract.” (Katemis v. Westerlind (1956) 142 Cal.App.2d 799, 807.) “It is not necessary, in order to make time of the essence of a contract, that it should be so declared in exact language or in so many words, but the intent to make it so must be clearly, unequivocally and unmistakably shown or expressed in the document. Merely prescribing the day on or before which a payment must be made or an act performed does not render time essential with respect to such payment or such act when time is not otherwise made the essence of the contract.” (Id.)
If the parties have failed in the agreement to specify the essential terms, there is no enforceable contract. However, if the unaddressed matter is minor or nonessential, the contract is not unenforceable. (1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Contracts, §§146 and 147, pp. 186-187.) Determining whether a term missing from a contract is essential or nonessential is a matter of degree, as to whether the term is so important to the bargain that it would be unfair to enforce the remainder of the contract.
The enforceability of a contract containing a promise to agree depends upon the relative importance and the severability of the matter left to the future; it is a question of degree and may be settled by determining whether the indefinite promise is so essential to the bargain that inability to enforce that promise strictly according to its terms would make unfair the enforcement of the remainder of the agreement. (See 1 Williston on Contracts (3d ed. 1957) §§ 45, 48, pp. 152, 156-158. See also Belcher v. Williams, 151 Cal.App.2d 615, 620 [311 P.2d 861].)
Where the matters left for future agreement are unessential, each party will be forced to accept a reasonable determination of the unsettled point or if possible the unsettled point may be left unperformed and the remainder of the contract be enforced. (Wilson v. Wilson, 96 Cal.App.2d 589, 593-595; see 1 Williston on Contracts (3d ed. 1957) § 48, pp. 156-158.; Los Angeles v. Superior Court of County of Los Angeles (1959) 51 Cal.2d 423, 433; See also Patel v. Liebermensch (2008) 45 Cal.4th 344, 349 (“Equity does not require that all the terms and conditions of the proposed agreement be set forth in the contract. The usual and reasonable conditions of such a contract are, in the contemplation of the parties, a part of their agreement”).)
A court can consider the subsequent conduct of the parties to interpret terms which were ambiguous in the contract. (1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Contracts, §772, pp. 828-830.)
In deciding motions made under section 664.6, judges “must determine whether the parties entered into a valid and binding settlement.” (Kohn v. Jaymar-Ruby (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 1530, 1533.) For enforcement under Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6, parties may agree in different manners (oral or written) so long as they agree to all material terms. (Elyaoudayan v. Hoffman (2003) 104 Cal.App.4th 1421, 1428-1429.)
An essential requirement of settlement agreements is evidence showing the parties’ manifestation of mutual, objective assent, to the same thing. (Estate of Thottam (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 1331, 1340.) “A settlement agreement, like any other contract, is unenforceable if the parties fail to agree on a material term or if a material term is not reasonably certain.” (Lindsay v. Lewandowski (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 1618, 1622-1623. Accord Levitz v. The Warlocks (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 531, 535; Weddington Prods., Inc. v. Flick (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 793, 810; Weil & Brown, ¶ 12:955.5.)
‘If interpretation of a stipulation is in order the rules applied are those applied to the interpretation of contracts. It is not the province of the court to add to the provisions thereof; to insert a term not found therein (citations); or to make a new stipulation for the parties.’” (Jones v. World Life Research Institute (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 836, 840 (internal citations omitted).) “Once the parties have reached a settlement, however, they ‘may not escape their obligations by refusing to sign a written agreement that conforms to the oral terms.’” (Osumi v. Sutton (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 1355, 1360 (internal citations omitted).)
Code of Civil Procedure § 187 states:
“When jurisdiction is, by the Constitution or this Code, or by any other statute, conferred on a Court or judicial officer, all the means necessary to carry it into effect are also given; and in the exercise of this jurisdiction, if the course of proceeding be not specifically pointed out by this Code or the statute, any suitable process or mode of proceeding may be adopted which may appear most conformable to the spirit of this code.”
Section 187 is an equitable procedure to amend judgments. (Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Weinberg (2014) 227 Cal.App.4th 1, 8.)
A court may take judicial notice of a stipulated judgment. (Evid. Code § 452(d)(1).)
It has long been the rule that “[i]nterlocutory divorce decrees are res judicata as to all questions determined therein, including the property rights of the parties. If a property settlement is incorporated in the divorce decree, the settlement is merged with the decree and becomes the final judicial determination of the property rights of the parties.” (Kulchar v. Kulchar (1969) 1 Cal.3d 467, 470-471 (internal citations omitted).) And, that rule precludes readjudication of determined questions on the basis of mistake, in the absence of fraud or violation of a spouse’s duty of full disclosure. (Giovannoni v. Giovannoni (1981) 122 Cal.App.3d 666, 669; see also Jorgensen v. Jorgensen (1948) 32 Cal.2d 13, 23 (spouse barred from obtaining equitable relief by her admission that she and her attorney relied on the statements of her husband as to what part of the disclosed property was community property, rather than conduct her own investigation).)
An important limitation in interpreting a stipulated judgment with a government entity is that “the government may not contract away its right to exercise the police power in the future.” (Avco Community Developers, Inc. v. South Coast Regional Commission (1976) 17 Cal.3d 785, 800.)
Cross Complainants’ (Jean Chong and Korey Chong) Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement (filed on 8-17-18) is GRANTED. Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6 states, “If parties to pending litigation stipulate, in a writing signed by the parties outside of the presence of the court or orally before the court, for settlement of the case, or part thereof, the court, upon motion, may enter judgment pu...
..t the need for a new lawsuit. [Citation.] . . . Although a judge hearing a section 664.6 motion may receive evidence, determine disputed facts, and enter the terms of a settlement agreement as a judgment [citations], nothing in section 664.6 authorizes a judge to create the material terms of a settlement, as opposed to deciding what terms the parties themselves have previously agreed upon. [¶] In...
Nov 27, 2018
Orange County, CA
Motion: Plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Judgment Pursuant to Stipulation Tentative Ruling: To deny. Explanation: Stipulated Judgment: For sake of clarity in discussing the motion, the court will note the following regarding the Stipulated Judgment at issue on this motion. Plaintiff filed an earlier unlawful detainer action against Tomas Jefferson, Inc., dba Posh-Fresno on June 16, 2015 (Case #15CE...
..suance of a writ of possession of the premises. However, some of the terms of that judgment were problematic. It provided that if defendant failed to make any of these payments, plaintiff could apply ex parte to notify the court of the defendant’s “breach,” and the court would then 1) enter a judgment in the amount of $19,849.00, less payments made, 2) order the lease forfeited, and 3) issue an im...
Aug 21, 2017
Fresno County, CA
SUBJECT: Motion to enforce settlement Moving Party: Defendant Richard A. Higginson Resp. Party: Plaintiff Charlene Capetillo The motion is GRANTED. The case is dismissed. BACKGROUND: Plaintiff commenced this action on 03/29/2018 against defendant for: (1) quiet title; (2) breach of contract; (3); specific performance; (4) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (5) intentional infliction...
..ved by mail, by January 9, 2019. (See Code Civ. Proc. § 1005(b).) Instead, on January 8, 2018, Defendant’s counsel e-mailed Plaintiff’s counsel to advise him that Defendant would be filing the motion. (Opposition, p. 4.) The motion was subsequently served by electronic transmission on January 10, 2019. (Id.) Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 1010.6(a)(2)(A)(i): “For cases filed on or before D...
Feb 05, 2019
Los Angeles County, CA
Background: On May 2, 2018, Petitioner Alan Kushynski, as Trustee for the Kushynski Family Trust, commenced these proceedings by filing the instant petition seeking an order entering the Stipulated Judgment pursuant to the Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release (“Settlement Agreement”). Petitioner and Respondent BCH Enterprises (“BCH”) entered into the Settlement Agreement on December 7, 2017. ...
..he Investment Agreement, causing Petitioner to suffer over $750,000 of damages. The Petition further alleges that in lieu of the expense and time involved in litigation, the parties reached a settlement of their disputes arising out of the Investment Agreement and executed the Settlement Agreement and Stipulated Judgment. Pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, BCH was required to ma...
Aug 15, 2018
Los Angeles County, CA
Plaintiff Burbank City Federal Credit Union’s Motion to Vacate Dismissal and for Entry of Judgment is granted in the amount of $7,650.00 principal, interest based on the rate of 10 percent per annum from November 4, 2015, and $1,000.00 in attorneys’ fees. Legal Standard Under Code of Civil Procedure, section 664.6: “If parties to pending litigation stipulate, in a writing signed by the parties...
..of section 664.6 is prerequisite to invoking the power of the court to impose a settlement agreement.” (Sully-Miller Contracting Co. v. Gledson/Cashman Construction, Inc. (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 30, 37.) “[T]he term ‘parties’ as used in section 664.6 means the litigants themselves, and does not include their attorneys of record.” (Levy v. Superior Court (1995) 10 Cal.4th 578, 586.) “[T]he statute...
Sep 10, 2018
Wendy Chang or Jon R. Takasugi
Los Angeles County, CA
Plaintiff State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company’s Motion to Vacate Dismissal and Enter Judgment is granted in the amount of $9,511.41 principal, plus $1,471.80 interest, $988.95 costs and $960.68 attorney’s fees. Discussion Plaintiff State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“Plaintiff”) filed the instant action for automobile subrogation against Defendants Richard Nowicki and Sou...
..efore the court, for settlement of the case, or part thereof, the court, upon motion, may enter judgment pursuant to the terms of the settlement. If requested by the parties, the court may retain jurisdiction over the parties to enforce the settlement until performance in full of the terms of the settlement. (CCP § 664.6.) Strict compliance with the statutory requirements is necessary before a...
Oct 12, 2017
Elaine Lu or Georgina Torres Rizk
Los Angeles County, CA
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