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Fifth DCA Finds Another Proposal for Settlement Invalid for an Ambiguity

 

Plaintiff sued for personal injury damages arising from a motor vehicle accident.  Defendant offered $5,001 to settle via a Proposal for Settlement, and Plaintiff rejected it. Plaintiff secured a verdict of only $1,258 at trial ostensibly triggering the FPS.  The Court entered a Final Judgment in favor of Plaintiff for the amount of $36,000.24.

Defendant sought to strike the Proposal as ambiguous. The Appellate Court noted that the fact that the PFS did not require an execution of a release was not dispostive, but rather, the language of the PFS was at issue.  The Court found the language that specified “……claims resolved by this offer are all actions, causes of action, demands for damages of whatever name or nature and tort, contract or by statute…” was ambiguous as it expressly proposed to resolve potential UM claims and health insurance claims wherein the underlying claim was  only in tort.  Thus, it was ambiguous, and the Fifth District reversed.

The rule may be found at: http://coxlawflorida.com/florida-rules-of-civil-procedure/rule-1-442-proposals-for-settlement/

The opinion may be found at: http://www.5dca.org/Opinions/Opin2015/030215/5D14213.corr.op.pdf#search=Vogan

 
 

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