The Plaintiff filed a filed a medical malpractice action against multiple defendants, including FMC Hospital, Ltd., a Florida Limited Partnership d/b/a Florida Medical Center [FMC Hospital Ltd.], and FMC Medical, Inc., f/k/a FMC Center Inc., d/b/a Florida Medical Center [FMC Medical]. The complaint alleged that these two entities “owned  operated, maintained, and controlled” Florida Medical Center. The Plaintiff also alleged that FMC Hospital, Ltd. was a limited partnership, and that FMC Medical, Inc. was a general partner of Florida Medical Center.

Defendant, FMC Hospital Ltd., filed a Proposal for Settlement, as a single entity, however, the  text of the proposal unambiguously refered to the Defendant offerors in the plural as the party making the proposal was FMC Hospital Ltd. as well as FMC Medical Inc.  Plaintiff did not prevail in the trial court.

FMC Hospital Ltd. and FMC Medical subsequently filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Fla Stat. § 768.79 and Fla.R.Civ.P.1.442.  The trial court awarded fees on the basis that there was only a single offeror—Florida Medical Center—and, therefore, apportionment of the amount offered was not required.  The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed.

On petition to the Florida Supreme Court, the Court quashed and remanded by finding that the  settlement offer was a joint offer. Therefore, apportionment of the settlement was required under “strict construction of the statute.”

The full opinion may be found at:

 http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2015/sc12-1783.pdf

 

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