Appellate Case Law Update – Does Improper Service Invalidate Proposals for Settlement?

November 7, 2017 by on News

The Supreme Court of Florida recently accepted jurisdiction in Wheaton v. Wheaton, Case No. SC17-716, to review a conflict among the District Courts regarding whether a party is required to strictly comply with the service requirements set forth in Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516 in order to enforce a proposal for settlement.  In Wheaton v. Wheaton, 217 So. 3d 125 (Fla. 3d DCA2017), the Third District found that a proposal for settlement, which was not served in accordance with these requirements, was invalid.  On the other hand, the Second District in Boatright v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 218 So. 3d 962 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) and Fourth District in McCoy v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 15380 (Fla. 4th DCA Oct. 25, 2017) held that the service requirements in rule 2.516 do not apply to proposals for settlement, so that the failure to strictly comply with that rule will not void an otherwise enforceable proposal.  The McCoy Court held that an otherwise valid proposal for settlement is enforceable as long as the party to whom it is offered has “actual notice” of the proposal.  The Florida Supreme Court has stayed Boatright pending disposition of the Wheaton case. 

Until a decision is issued by the Florida Supreme Court, it is important to strictly comply with the email service requirements in Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.516 to ensure enforceability.  This requires the subject line of the email to include: SERVICE OF COURT DOCUMENT, case number, and case name.  In addition, the body of the email must include the Court, case number, name of the initial party on each side, the title of the document served and the name and telephone of the person required to serve the document.  This should be done regardless of what District your case is located in.

If you have any questions about proposal for settlements or service thereof, please contact our appellate attorneys, Kansas R. Gooden and Kevin D. Franz

Kansas R. Gooden
Partner / Practice Group Leader
Direct: 904.493.3755

Kevin D. Franz
Senior Associate
Direct: 954.622.0093

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