Martinez v. Southern California Edison Company (May 5, 2016, G051029) 2016 WL 3098968

The plaintiff was injured while trimming trees and sued GMSR’s client, Southern California Edison, and one of Edison’s subcontractors. When the subcontractor’s default was entered, the plaintiff settled with Edison, but he retained the right to rescind the settlement if the Court of Appeal set aside the subcontractor’s default. To rescind the settlement, the plaintiff was required to return the settlement proceeds within 30 days of the Court of Appeal’s ruling. The Court of Appeal set aside the default, but the plaintiff didn’t repay the proceeds within 30 days. Edison moved for dismissal under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6. The plaintiff opposed, explaining that his counsel had forgotten the deadline and seeking both mandatory and discretionary relief under Code of Civil Procedure section 473. The trial court denied relief and entered judgment for Edison.

The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with GMSR’s arguments that mandatory relief was not available to undo the settlement’s terms, and that discretionary relief was not available because there was no showing of extenuating circumstances that justified forgetting the deadline. The Court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument (raised for the first time on appeal) that he was entitled to equitable relief under Civil Code section 3275.

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