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3 (odd?) Questions about a Conditional Settlement in LA County

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I entered into a conditional settlement agreement in Los Angeles County for a smaller amount than I was sued for.

Basically, if I make payments as agreed, they dismiss with prejudice. If I don't, they can then apply for a judgment in the full amount.

 

Plaintiff filed the Notice of Conditional Settlement back in July and the case was put off calendar and I've made two payments since, but when I check online the actual settlement agreement itself still has not been filed.

 

Question 1) Should I be concerned about this?

I have an executed fax copy on pleading paper so I suppose I could file it myself, but maybe these things are not filed or something. Maybe only the notice of settlement is filed.

 

My second question relates to the fact that I have been in negotiations on a second case with the same JBD but a different attorney. I used the first agreement as a guide and we have agreed to a reduced amount and payment schedule as a conditional settlement, but they are insisting I also sign a stipulated judgment for the full amount, which will be "held in trust" and not filed as long as I make payments as agreed. I have refused since the same JDB accepted the other settlement without that requirement and I don't want an actual judgment out there, filed or not.

 

When the second attorney claimed the JDB would not agree "to something like that", I told them that I knew for a fact they had and sent them a redacted copy of the conditional settlement agreement without telling them it was my case. The lawyer responded that he wants a non-redacted copy.

 

Question 2) Is there a downside to this?

As I mentioned above, the first settlement agreement resolved the other case but has not been been filed, so I would just be showing them a fully executed copy. The second lawyer already filed a Notice of Conditional Settlement, which put the second case off calendar, which leads to my last question:

 

Question 3) If the negotiations fall apart, how quickly will they be able to get back on the active calendar?

We were already 20 days from trial and had exchanged discovery. 

 

Thanks in advance for any expertise/advice in this matter.

 

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1)  What did the settlement agreement say?  It sounds like they are both stipulated judgments, where they can gain the full amount if you fail to pay.  Maybe attorney 1, is calling it a conditional settlement, but the reality is that it's a settlement with a stipulated judgment.  Attorney 2 is using the proper language.

 

2)  In my opinion, stipulated judgments are far worse than getting a standard judgment through litigation.  My reasoning is:  If the account balance is $3000, and you sign a settlement and stipulated judgment for $1500.  You then pay $1450, and something happens and you can't pay the rest, or miss a payment or two.  The JDB can then file the judgment in the amount of $3000, and come after the full amount, even though you've already paid $1450.

 

3)  As quickly as they can efile with the court system.

 

 

You're in CA, these cases can be won with some effort.  Why not just fight them?

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1)  What did the settlement agreement say?  It sounds like they are both stipulated judgments, where they can gain the full amount if you fail to pay.  Maybe attorney 1, is calling it a conditional settlement, but the reality is that it's a settlement with a stipulated judgment.  Attorney 2 is using the proper language.

 

2)  In my opinion, stipulated judgments are far worse than getting a standard judgment through litigation.  My reasoning is:  If the account balance is $3000, and you sign a settlement and stipulated judgment for $1500.  You then pay $1450, and something happens and you can't pay the rest, or miss a payment or two.  The JDB can then file the judgment in the amount of $3000, and come after the full amount, even though you've already paid $1450.

 

3)  As quickly as they can efile with the court system.

 

 

You're in CA, these cases can be won with some effort.  Why not just fight them?

1) The first is a conditional settlement with stipulated judgment in the event of default. If I pay as agreed, there will be no judgment and the case will be dismissed with prejudice. There was no separate stipulated judgment as the 2nd attorney wants to add and I want to avoid.

 

2) I don't plan on defaulting. But I'm aware of the terms, of course. If I make the payments, I avoid a judgment in the first case.

 

3) I mean how long might it be before the actual trial date is assigned. I know they can file for a new date immediately. That doesn't mean the trial is next week. I'm looking for a general time frame if anyone is familiar with that. It's in the Chatsworth Court, if that matters.

3a) I prefer the settlement; it's quite favorable.

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They don't file it with the court unless you fail to pay as agreed.  Then they file it and get the judgement.  As long as you pay as agreed, keep proof of payment in one spot in the event they try to bilk you for more.

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They don't file it with the court unless you fail to pay as agreed.  Then they file it and get the judgement.  As long as you pay as agreed, keep proof of payment in one spot in the event they try to bilk you for more.

Do you mean they don't file the Conditional Settlement Agreement at all (unless I default), only the Notice of Settlement?

 

If so, is there any downside to showing the unredacted CSA to the second attorney to prove to him that the JDB previously accepted it w/o requiring a stipulated judgment?

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My understanding is a stipulated judgment would only go into effect if you failed to pay or uphold your end of the agreement.  They would then file the judgment with the court.  I don't see your first agreement as any different than the second agreement.  Both contain a stipulated judgment to be entered if you fail to pay.

 

I don't know exactly what they have to file, in terms of a notice of settlement.  I would assume the notice, and then a dismissal.  @calawyer can probably answer this 

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So the Conditional Settlement Agreement does not need to be filed with the court (unless I default), only the Notice of Settlement?

 

And is there any downside to showing the 2nd attorney a copy of the 1st executed agreement so he can see for himself that his client has accepted it before?

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There is no rule about filing the settlement agreement itself. Plaintiff could simply file a notice of settlement or file something more elaborate that attaches the agreement. If you would prefer the agreement not to be attached, insist upon it. Hard to say without actually looking at the agreement, but it sounds like the judgment would not be filed with the Court unless you default.

I can't think of any downside to showing them the other agreement unless you paid a greater percentage of the amount claimed.

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There is always a risk making agreements like this with a JDB.  JDBs do not play fair.  They do not play by the rules.  They will take you to the cleaners at any chance they get.

 

Since you already entered this agreement, all you can do now is very carefully document every payment you make to them and keep that documentation for a very long time.  You will likely need it someday when this pops up again either with the same or a new JDB.

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