How to Properly Retain Jurisdiction Pursuant to CCP § 664.6

(Originally posted 12/19/19) As this year comes to a close, I am reminded of the need to always wrap up matters in the best way possible. When a case is settled, the parties often intend to request the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement. Typically, the parties sign an agreement for the court to retain jurisdiction to just this, and counsel submits a Request for Dismissal stating that the court is to retain jurisdiction pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) § 664.6. However, in light of Mesa RHF Partners LP v City of Los Angeles (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 913, this is no longer sufficient for the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce a settlement agreement.

A request for the trial court to retain jurisdiction under CCP § 664.6 “must conform to the same three requirements which the Legislature and the courts have deemed necessary for CCP § 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.” Mesa,  at p. 917.) The “request must be express, not implied from other language, and it must be clear and unambiguous.” Id. “The term ‘parties’ as used in CCP § 664.6 … means the litigants themselves, and does not include their attorneys of record.” Mesa, at p. 918.

In Mesa, the court found that a Request for Dismissal, signed by counsel, was “not signed by the ‘parties’ (or even a single ‘party’) as that term in § 664.6 has been uniformly construed by California courts” and therefore was not sufficient for the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement.

Fear not! The remedy is rather simple enough: 1. Make sure the settlement agreement signed by the parties states that the court is to retain jurisdiction pursuant to CCP § 664.6; 2. Insert the following language on the Request for Dismissal: “The court is to retain jurisdiction pursuant to CCP § 664.6 and the settlement agreement attached hereto as Exhibit ‘A’”; and 3. Attach the signed settlement agreement to the Request for Dismissal as Exhibit “A.”

Alternatively, if the settlement is confidential or you do not want to attach a copy of the settlement agreement to the Request for Dismissal, counsel can have the parties sign a pleading requesting the court to retain jurisdiction pursuant to CCP § 664.6. Here is a sample form pleading for the court to retain jurisdiction:

RECITALS
Plaintiff [FILL IN] (“Plaintiff”) and Defendants [FILL IN] and [FILL IN] (“Defendants”) (hereinafter collectively as the “Parties”) hereby stipulate with reference to the following facts:
A.            On [DATE], Plaintiff and Defendants fully executed a settlement of the above-referenced matter on the condition that this Court, the Superior Court of California, [FILL IN]  County, located at [FILL IN], in Department [FILL IN], the Honorable [FILL IN], judge presiding (the “Court”), retain jurisdiction over Plaintiff [FILL IN]  and Defendants [FILL IN]  and the above-captioned matter to enforce the settlement until full performance of the terms of this settlement is completed.
B.            Pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6, Plaintiff [FILL IN]  and Defendants [FILL IN]  hereby agree, acknowledge, stipulate, and request that this Court retain jurisdiction over Plaintiff [FILL IN]  and Defendants [FILL IN]  and the above-captioned matter to enforce the settlement until full performance of the terms of this settlement is completed.   
Accordingly, it is hereby stipulated between the Parties hereto and, by and through their counsel of record, that this Court may enter the following Order:
                1.            That, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6, this Court retain jurisdiction over Plaintiff [FILL IN] and Defendants [FILL IN] and the above-captioned matter to enforce the settlement until full performance of the terms of this settlement is completed by the Parties.

Insert signature blocks for the parties, counsel, and the Court to make it an official order of the Court.

Either method will assist you ensuring that you are closing out your cases in the best way possible.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

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