Enforcement of Settlements

Court lacks authority to enforce settlement under Code of Civil Procedure Section 664.6 where all parties did not give personal consent to settle.  David Critzer et al. v, Jerry Enos et al., (No. H033913 California Courts of Appeal, August 30, 2010).

In this matter, a lawsuit between plaintiffs and defendant Homeowners Association (HOA) resolved but without agreement on the terms of a formal settlement agreement. The HOA moved to try to enforce the settlement pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 664.6.  The trial court entered an order requiring the parties to exchange terms for an agreement, and opined that it would choose an appropriate agreement if the parties failed to agree.  When the parties were unable to do so, the court entered an order enforcing the settlement. The plaintiff appealed the court’s decision to enforce the settlement pursuant to terms submitted by the HOA. Plaintiff argued that the trial court exceeded its authority under Section 664.6.

The appeals court reversed finding that the trial court lacked authority under Section 664.6 to enforce any settlement.  The trial court may not enforce the settlement unless the litigants themselves stipulate in writing or orally before the court that they have settled the case.   Given that not all of the parties in this matter gave their personal consent to the settlement, the trial court was precluded from granting a motion to enforce the settlement under Section 664.6.

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