Appellate Update – Courts Reject Attempts to Nit-pick Proposals for Settlement Pt. III

April 18, 2017 by on News

In Atl. Civ., Inc. v. Swift, Case No. 3D15-1594 (Fla. 3d DCA Mar. 1, 2017), the Third District considered the plaintiff’s single proposal for settlement made to both of the defendants in an action for conversion.  The proposal sought to resolve all claims brought by the plaintiff against the defendants.  The proposal referred to them collectively as “defendants” and apportioned amounts to settle the claims against each of them.  As a non-monetary term, the proposal included a request for mutual general releases from each defendant.

The defendants objected to proposal arguing that it was ambiguous because it appeared to be conditioned upon acceptance by both of the defendants.  The trial court agreed and denied plaintiff’s motion for fees.  The Third District, however, disagreed and reversed.

The Court looked at the complete language of the proposal and the attached general release forms.  It found no requirement that both defendants must agree in order to effectuate settlement. The settlement amount was proportioned between the two defendants.  Interpreting the plaintiff’s use of the collective “defendants” in the proposal did not create an ambiguity that could have reasonably affected the offerees’ decisions.  Interpreting the language otherwise would involve the type of “nitpicking” that the Florida Supreme Court’s decision of Anderson v. Hilton Hotels Corp., 202 So. 3d 846 (Fla. 2016) expressly warns against.  Thus, the proposal was sufficiently clear and definite to allow each appellee to make an informed decision as to whether to settle.

Click on the link to read Pt. I of: Appellate Update – Courts Reject Attempts to Nit-pick Proposals for Settlement
Click on the link to read Pt. II of:  Appellate Update – Courts Reject Attempts to Nit-pick Proposals for Settlement

If you have any questions about proposals for settlement or would like to refer an appellate matter, please contact our appellate attorneys

Kansas R. Gooden
Board Certified Appellate Attorney
Appellate Practice Group Leader
Direct: 904.493.3755
Fax: 904.493.5658

Erin Pogue Newell, Associate

Erin Pogue Newell
Direct: 954.622.0093
Fax: 954.622.0095


Comprehensive Services

Many cases overlap several areas of law. As a full service law firm, we are able to recognize how one legal discipline impacts another. We work as a team on complex issues that require knowledge of a variety of state and federal laws. This multi-disciplinary approach allows clients to receive the large-firm advantage of access to multiple attorneys in a wide scope of practice areas as well as the hands-on customer service offered by a boutique law firm. In addition to civil litigation, employment law, workers’ compensation defense, commercial law, construction law and appeals, our firm also handles professional liability claims.

Our bilingual staff is available to assist with immigration matters, including consular and removal defenses.