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Walton v. Mueller

California Court of Appeal
102 Cal. Rptr. 3d 605 (2009)


Facts

Timothy Walton (plaintiff) sued Scott Mueller (defendant). In 2006, Walton obtained a default judgment against Mueller for $40,000. Two years later, Walton attempted to execute on the judgment by levying one of Mueller’s bank accounts. Mueller engaged in settlement discussions to resolve the judgment. On October 17, 2008, Walton sent a letter rejecting a settlement offer from Mueller to pay $15,000 over nine months. However, in that same letter, Walton said that if Mueller was willing to settle and sent a check for $15,000, then Walton would stop trying to execute on the $40,000 default judgment. Mueller responded a few days later and asserted that a binding contract had been formed to settle the judgment for $15,000 payable over nine months. However, that letter also offered to settle by paying the full $15,000 out of the account that had been levied, meaning Walton would have to lift the levy before Mueller could pay him. Several days later, Mueller requested that the trial court stay execution on the judgment based on an enforceable settlement agreement. The trial court determined that no enforceable contract had been formed. After that, Mueller sent another letter attempting to accept the offer contained in Walton’s October 17 letter. This letter contained a copy of a cashier’s check for $15,000, but did not contain an actual check. Walton responded that Mueller had rejected Walton’s earlier offer to settle for $15,000 in a separate check when Mueller said he would only pay from the levied account after the levy had been lifted. Walton then countered with a settlement offer of $60,000. Mueller filed a motion under California Code of Civil Procedure § 664.6 to enforce a purported settlement agreement for $15,000. The trial court denied the motion, ruling that no valid settlement agreement had been entered into.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Duffy, J.)

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