California: Parties, Not Attorneys, Must Request Court To Retain Jurisdiction To Enforce Settlement

Author:Mr Rex Heinke and Jenna Mersereau Nalchajian
Profession:Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
 
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Key Points

The California Court of Appeal held that under Civil Procedure Code 664.6, a request for a court to retain jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement must be made: (1) during the pendency of the case, not after the case has been dismissed, (2) by the parties, (3) expressly and (4) before the court. Such a request must be either in a writing signed by the parties or orally before the court by the parties. It may not be made by their attorneys or other agents. Mesa RHF Partners, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles

Hill and Olive sued the City of Los Angeles challenging a city ordinance. Counsel for Hill and Olive later filed a notice stating that the parties had settled. The settlement agreement stated: "The Court shall retain jurisdiction pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6 to enforce the terms of the Settlement Agreement." Counsel for Hill and Olive filed a request for dismissal that contained the following language inserted by counsel: "Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce settlement per C.C.P. § 664.6."

Similarly, Mesa sued the City of Los Angeles challenging a different city ordinance. Counsel for Mesa later filed a notice stating that the parties had settled. The settlement agreement stated: "The Court shall retain jurisdiction pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6 to enforce the terms of the Settlement Agreement." Counsel for Mesa filed a request for dismissal that contained the following language inserted by counsel: "The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement per Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6."

Subsequently, Hill, Olive and Mesa filed motions to enforce the settlement agreements under § 664.6. The trial court denied the motions. Hill, Olive and Mesa appealed.

The Court of Appeal's Opinion

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's denial of their motions to enforce the settlement agreements.

Under California law, voluntary dismissal of an action or special proceeding terminates the court's jurisdiction over the matter unless the parties make a request under Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6 that the court...

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