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Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement in California

Motion to Enforce Settlement Agreement in California

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Published by Stan Burman
This is issue number 17 of the weekly California legal newsletter. The topic of this issue is filing a motion to enforce a settlement agreement in California. The author is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California litigation since 1995.
This is issue number 17 of the weekly California legal newsletter. The topic of this issue is filing a motion to enforce a settlement agreement in California. The author is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California litigation since 1995.

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Published by: Stan Burman on Sep 08, 2012
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10/31/2013

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1The topic of this issue of the newsletter is filing a motion to enforce settlement agreement inCalifornia. The motion is made under 
Code of Civil Procedure
§ 664.6 and is filed by a partyseeking to enforce a settlement agreement entered into in any pending litigation in California.
Code of Civil Procedure
§ 664.6 states that, “If parties to pending litigation stipulate, in a writingsigned by the parties outside 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 pursuant to the terms of thesettlement. If requested by the parties, the court may retain jurisdiction over the parties to enforcethe settlement until performance in full of the terms of the settlement.”This means that if a settlement is reached in a pending civil case in California, and the parties havesigned a written settlement agreement, or have stipulated to a settlement in open court, and one party does not comply with the terms of the settlement agreement, the other party can file a motionto request that the court enter judgment pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement under 
Code of Civil Procedure
§ 664.6.The scope of section 664.6 is extremely broad.The procedure provided by Section 664.6 applies where settlement is reached in pending litigation.
 Kirby v. Southern California Edison Co.
, 78 Cal.App.4th 840, 845 (2000);
 Housing Group v.United Nat’l Ins. Co.
, 90 Cal.App.4th 1106, 1108 (2001).The statute states that any written agreement outside court must be signed by the parties. This isinterpreted to mean that the settlement must be signed by both the party seeking to enforce thesettlement and the party against whom it is to be enforced.
 Harris v. Rudin, Richman & Appe
, 74Cal.App.4th 299, 305 (1999);
Sully-Miller Contracting Co. v. Gledson/Cashman Const., Inc.
, 103Cal.App.4th 30, 37 (2002).So long as the terms of the settlement are sufficiently definite to enable the courts to give it anexact meaning, the court is authorized to enter judgment on the settlement.
Weddington Productions, Inc. v. Flic
, 60 Cal.App.4th 793, 810-812 (1998). A settlement agreement thatincorporates other documents can be enforced pursuant to section 664.6 if there was a meeting of the minds regarding the terms of the incorporated documents.
 Id.
at 813.And disputes regarding the terms of the settlement itself may be adjudicated on a section 664.6motion on the basis of declarations or evidence.
 Malouf Bros. v. Dixon
, 230 Cal.App.3d 280, 284(1991).In a ruling on a motion under section 664.6, the trial judge may receive oral testimony,documentary testimony or declarations.
Corkland v. Boscoe
, 156 Cal.App.3d 989, 994 (1984).Section 664.6 also empowers the judge hearing the motion to determine disputed factual issues thathave arisen regarding the settlement agreement.
 Fiore v. Alvord 
, 182 Cal.App.3d 561, 566 (1985).If the terms of the settlement agreement provide that any party seeking to enforce the terms of thesettlement agreement who prevails is entitled to attorney fees and costs, the prevailing party on any
 
motion to enforce settlement agreement is entitled to recover their attorney fees and costs incurredin bringing or defending the motion.The calculable amount of time spent includes all hours incurred working compensable services,including, but not limited to, investigation, evaluation of claims, drafting and revising pleadings(including the motion for attorney’s fees), research and briefing of factual and legal issues, andconferring with clients and/or other counsel.
See e.g., People ex rel. Dept. of Trans. v. Yuki
, 31Cal.App.4th 1754, 1775 (1995);
Stokus v. Marsh
, 217 Cal.App.3d 647, 656 (1990);
CaliforniaCommon Cause v. Duffy
, 200 Cal.App.3d 730, 753 (1987).The submission of the information contained in the attorney’s declaration is
 prima facie
evidencethat the costs, expenses, fees and services listed therein were necessarily incurred.
See, Hadley v. Krepell,
167 Cal.App.3d 677, 682 (1985).Furthermore, the hourly rate at which Plaintiff’s attorney is entitled to be compensated is thereasonable market value of their service in the community.
See Serrano v. Unruh
, 32 Cal.3d 621,639 (1982);
 PLCM Group, Inc. v. Drexler 
, 22 Cal.4th 1084, 1095 (2000).As a matter of law, actual billing rates are presumptively the reasonable market value of theattorney’s rates.
 Mandel v. Lackner 
, 92 Cal.App.3d 747, 761 (1979) (“the value of an attorney’stime is reflected in his normal billing rate”). In addition, a court evaluating the reasonableness of an attorney’s rate may consider the skill, experience, reputation, education, and professionalaccomplishment of the attorney, as well as the nature of the work performed.
 Flannery v.California Highway Patrol 
, 61 Cal.App.4th 629, 632-633 (1998);
City of Oakland v. Oakland  Raiders
, 203 Cal.App.4th 78, 82 (1998).The hourly rate requested should be comparable to rates approved by courts even dating back several years, for attorneys of similar skill and knowledge.
 Bihun v. AT&T Information Sys., Inc.
,13 Cal.App.4th 976, 997-998 (1993) (approving hourly rate for $450 per hour for Los Angeles areaattorney).If you enjoy this newsletter, tell others about it. They can subscribe by visiting the following link:http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm Have a great week and thanks for being a subscriber.Yours Truly,Stan BurmanThe author of this newsletter, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in Californialitigation since 1995.The author's website:http://www.legaldocspro.netView numerous sample documents sold by the author:http://www.scribd.com/legaldocspro

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