Friday, March 20, 2015
C.A. Rejects Approval of Judgment Terms Beyond Those in Stipulation
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner erred in approving a proposed judgment that was stuffed with provisions not contained in the parties’ settlement agreements, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.
The judgment was signed by Commissioner Matthew St. George, acting pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure §664.6, which provides:
“If parties to pending litigation stipulate, in a writing signed 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 the settlement.”
However, the judgment contained about 30 pages of provisos not contained in the marital settlement agreements of environmentalist Lotte van der Veer and director/cinematographer Michael Anthony Regalbuto.
The provisions “were not simply interpretations of the terms of the settlement but additional awards of property to Regalbuto,” Acting Justice Anne Egerton said in her unpublished opinion for Div. Three.
Egerton, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sitting on assignment, wrote:
“[T]he court’s entry of judgment here was contrary to the plain language of section 664.6 as well as the legal principles underlying the statute. Section 664.6 requires that the parties stipulate either in writing or orally before the court to the terms of the settlement. Here, there was no evidence that the parties stipulated to the new terms either in writing or orally before the court.”
The jurist explained that the purpose of §664.6 is to incorporate provisions of a settlement agreement, a contract, into a judgment without need to file a new action for specific performance.
“Here,” she wrote, “no contract was formed as to the additional terms inserted into the judgment because van der Veer never agreed to them.”
The matter was remanded “for entry of judgment based solely on the terms of the parties’ written settlement agreements.”
The case is Marriage of van der Veer and Regalbuto, B254486.
Mid-City attorney Jane S. Price represented van der Veer and Glendale lawyer Linda T. Barney argued for Regalbuto.
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