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Can I change my mind on a settlement that I orally accepted in court?

Martinez, CA |
Filed under: Litigation

I am the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit in California. The defendant is the owner of the building where I sustained the injury. At a hearing that was to decide whether to go to trial or reach a settlement I decided to orally accept a settlement before the judge because I felt pressured from all parties including my attorney. After reflecting on it I've changed my mind & would like to pursue a trial. I have not signed anything accepting the settlement. My attorney has told me that I can't change my mind & listed CCP 646 as the reason why. Do I still have the choice not to accept & sign the settlement to pursue a trial?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. If the settlement was put on the record in court, the other side could file a motion to enforce. Will need a copy of transcript of the hearing/settlement.

  2. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 646.6 allows a court to enforce a settlement put on the record in front of the judge. That means if you agreed to it in front of a judge, the court could enter judgment and you would be forced to accept it.
    Consult with your lawyer. If your lawyer had advised it, she or he balanced the risks and rewards, and thought this settlement is best for you. Unless there is compelling evidence this was wrong, I would be.inclined to respect it. 510-208-5500. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is not legal advice, because it is only of a general nature. Please contact a lawyer qualified in your jurisdiction to discuss your situation in confidence, using your factual details. Avvo answers are only general legal responses. Item 9 of's Terms and Conditions are incorporated in this disclaimer as though it were printed here.

  3. It sounds like the answer is no, but you should speak with your attorney about this and make sure.

  4. Under CCP section 664.6 (you have the numbers a bit mixed up) the other side can enforce a settlement you agreed to before a judge. So while you could back out now, the other side would simply make a motion to enforce it and the court would enter judgment consistent with the terms you accepted at the settlement. You would end up being forced to accept it in the end. You need to have a frank discussion with your lawyer about why you are unhappy with the settlement. Perhaps that discussion will provide you more clarity as to why the lawyer believes the settlement is in your best interests.

    I am licensed only in California and this response is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be based on the exact facts of the particular situation, and by necessity this forum is not appropriate for discussion of specific, exact facts. Contact a lawyer for more specific advice. My answer to your question on AVVO does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  5. If you agreed on the record in the courtroom in front of the judge as to the settlement it will be enforceable. Even outside of the courtroom in mediation if the parties and attorneys execute the mediation settlement agreement the courts will even enter that as a judgment even though it was not completed in open court. The only thing that would provide you any hope for relief would be if your attorney accept this settlement rather than yourself or your attorney recite on the record and there is no transcript that reflects you agreed to accept the settlement

    This participating Attorney does not warrant any information provided, nor are we creating an Attorney-Client relationship by providing said information to you on this site. Nothing contained herein is intended to constitute, offer, induce, promise, or contract of any kind. The content provided is presented as a courtesy to be used only for informational purposes and is not represented to be error free. The Law Offices of John N. Kitta makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to its answer to inquiries, and such representations and warranties are being expressly disclaimed. Given limited facts, we are attempting to share relevant information concerning this area of the law as a public service.

  6. Once you put a settlement on the record, you cannot change your mind unless there were misrepresentations made to you and you relied on those representations to enter into the settlement agreement. Some judges may order sanctions against you if you back out of a settlement agreement that was put on the record and enforce the settlement without requiring the other party to bring a motion to enforce the settlement.

    DISCLAIMER — No legal representation is being sought by the response to this question. Please note that this answer is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. An attorney should be consulted for more in depth legal advice as more facts and information are necessary. No attorney-client relationship is hereby intended. However, if you have additional questions concerning this matter you may reach Dominique N. Thieu, Esq., by: phone 714.435.9500 or e-mail me, THIEU VIRTUAL LAW GROUP, 17150 Newhope Street, Suite 213, Fountain Valley, CA 92708.

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