California law provides a convenient way for parties in a lawsuit who reach a settlement to allow the court to enforce the settlement agreement, even if the settlement will take years to perform. Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6 provides that if parties to pending litigation agree in a signed writing to settle the case, the court may, on the motion of a party, enter judgment pursuant to the settlement, and retain jurisdiction to enforce it. A losing defendant recently found out that the the key words in this code section are "pending litigation."
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