Plaintiff (Audiffred) sought tort damages arising from a motor vehicle accident, and her husband sought consortium damages from the same occurrence.  Audiffred filed a Proposal For Settlement in the amount of $17,500 pursuant to Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.442 as well as Fla. Stat. § 768.79 specifying that the proposal would resolve any and claims of Audiffred, and as a relevant condition, both Plaintiffs would dismiss the lawsuit against the Defendant in the trial court.

Plaintiff beat her number at trial by approximately $5,000.00, and the trial court entered a final judgment that included attorney’s fees and cost finding that the PFS was “…clear and unambiguous in that it identified the parties and clearly identified the monetary and non-monetary conditions, that both plaintiffs would dismiss their lawsuit with prejudice….”

On appeal, the First District reversed the award of costs and attorney’s fees finding settlement offer constituted a joint proposal because, when read as a whole, it clearly expressed that Audiffred and the husband would dismiss their claims against Arnold with prejudice upon acceptance.  Thus, the PFS was invalid for failing to apportion between Audiffred and her husband as Defendant could not properly evaluate the offer and terms attributable to each offeror .

The Florida Supreme Court approved the First District by finding “….when a single offeror submits a settlement proposal to a single offeree pursuant to section 768.79 and rule 1.442, and the offer resolves pending claims by or against additional parties who are neither offerors nor offerees, it constitutes a joint proposal that is subject to the apportionment requirement in subdivision (c)(3) of the rule.”

The opinion may be found at:

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2015/sc12-2377.pdf

 

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