First District Court of Appeal, Published case, addressing that if a settlement agreement does not contain all of the provisions stipulated by both parties the court may not unilaterally modify the agreement

“[Code of Civil Procedure] [s]ection 664.6 permits a court to enter judgment pursuant to
the terms of a settlement if the parties stipulate orally before the court or in writing to settle all or
part of a case. [Citation.]” (Skulnick v. Roberts Express, Inc. (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 884, 889
(Skulnick).) Section 664.6 provides in pertinent part: “If parties to pending litigation stipulate
. . . 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.” (Italics added.)
A settlement agreement is interpreted according to the same principles as any other
written agreement. (Gouvis Engineering v. Superior Court (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 642, 649.) It
must be interpreted to give effect to the mutual intent of the parties as it existed at the time,
insofar as that intent can be ascertained and is lawful. (Civ. Code, § 1636; Ticor Title Ins. Co. v.
Rancho Santa Fe Assn. (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 726, 730.) If the language of the agreement is
clear and explicit and does not involve an absurdity, determination of the mutual intent of the
parties and interpretation of the contract is to be based on the language of the agreement alone.
(Civ. Code, §§ 1638, 1639; Sass v. Hank (1951) 108 Cal.App.2d 207, 211.)
While the court may interpret the terms of the parties’ settlement agreement, “nothing in
section 664.6 authorizes a judge to create the material terms of a settlement, as opposed to
deciding what terms the parties themselves have previously agreed upon.” (Weddington
Productions, Inc. v. Flick (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 793, 810, italics omitted.) Hernandez v. Board
of Education (2004) 126 Cal.App.4th 1161, 1176 (Hernandez); Reed v. Murphy (1925) 196 Cal.
395, 399 [“if a consent judgment or decree is different from or goes beyond the terms of the
stipulation which forms its basis it may be set aside upon appeal or by other appropriate
procedure, as it would not be in reality a consent judgment”].)


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