Most agreements executed in conjunction with a settlement include a provision whereby the Court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement under the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure §664.6. However, this reservation of jurisdiction might be lost by the filing of a request for dismissal – even if the retention of jurisdiction under CCP §664.6 is stated in the dismissal.
Mesa RHF Partners, L.P. v. City of Los Angeles (2019) 33 Cal. App. 5th 913 involved the settlement of a claim which was documented in a settlement agreement containing the standard language regarding retaining jurisdiction under section 664.6. Counsel for the plaintiffs filed a request for dismissal using Judicial Council form CIV-110, within which they inserted a reference to the court retaining jurisdiction under section 664.6. Thereafter, a dispute arose as to whether the City of Los Angeles had ongoing duties under the settlement agreement. The plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the settlement under section 664.6, which the trial court denied on the merits.
When the plaintiffs appealed, the appellate court never reached the merits. Rather, the Court found that there had been no proper reservation of jurisdiction under section 664.6 contained in the dismissal. Noting that strict compliance under section 664.6 was required to retain jurisdiction, the Court held that one of the requirements under the statute had not been met, i.e., that the request to retain jurisdiction is to be made by the parties. Because the dismissal – even though it contained language reserving jurisdiction under section 664.6 – was signed by the attorneys and not by the parties, the Court held that was insufficient to retain jurisdiction. The Court noted that this problem could have been solved by attaching a copy of the settlement agreement to the dismissal or submitting a stipulation for dismissal retaining jurisdiction signed by the parties.
Quite often, when you advise the trial court that you have reached a settlement – even if it calls for the court to retain jurisdiction under section 664.6 – the court wants you to dismiss the case in order to clear it off the docket. In doing so, follow the guidance in this opinion to make certain that jurisdiction to enforce your settlement is effectively retained.