Walton v. Mueller – Case Brief Summary (California)

In Walton v. Mueller (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 161, a $40,000 default judgment was entered against a debtor. (Id. at p. 164.)

Two years later, following settlement negotiations, the judgment debtor in a letter purported to accept the judgment creditor's offer to accept a lump-sum payment of $15,000 in full satisfaction of the judgment, enclosing a photocopy of a cashier's check for that amount. (Id. at pp. 165-166.)

The judgment creditor claimed his settlement offer had been previously rejected by the debtor during negotiations and demanded payment of $60,000. (Id. at p. 166.)

The judgment debtor filed a section 664.6 motion to enforce the purported settlement agreement allowing him to pay only $15,000 in full satisfaction of the judgment. (Walton, at p. 166.)

The trial court denied the motion. (Ibid.)

On appeal, after concluding the trial court properly found the section 664.6 procedure was inapplicable to enforcement of an alleged settlement agreement after a judgment is entered and there is no pending litigation, Walton discussed the availability of section 724.050 to enforce an agreement to accept less than the full amount of a judgment. (Walton, at p. 174.)

Walton stated:

"Statutory authority concerning the satisfaction of judgments only confirms that a judgment debtor ... who wishes to enforce an alleged agreement to satisfy a judgment, whether for full payment or something less than that, is not without a remedy. But it is not section 664.6. Section 724.050, subdivision (d), specifically provides a noticed motion procedure to compel a judgment creditor to furnish an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment through which a trial court may determine whether an agreement for full satisfaction has been reached. The statutory scheme for satisfaction of judgment (§ 724.010 et seq.), which includes this section, has been characterized as providing 'only a single method for a judgment debtor to obtain an order for entry of satisfaction of judgment ... in those cases in which the judgment creditor refuses or fails to file or deliver a signed acknowledgment of satisfaction. ... There is no other procedure than section 724.050 authorizing a noticed motion for entry of satisfaction of judgment.' The judgment debtor's alleged settlement agreement is just the kind of agreement for which section 724.050, subdivision (d) is available--to compel the judgment creditor to furnish an acknowledgment of satisfaction of judgment based on an agreement to satisfy the judgment by payment for less than the full face amount." (Walton v. Mueller, supra, 180 Cal.App.4th at p. 174; see Yost-Linn Lumber & Finance Co. v. Bennett (1931) 116 Cal.App. 155, 157 2 P.2d 488 trial court was authorized to find the judgment creditor had "agreed to accept" the sum of $606 in satisfaction of the $839 default judgment.)