Shareholder Kansas Gooden Recently Prevailed In An Appeal Before The Florida Supreme Court
The case involved the question when is a settlement contract formed under section 768.79, Florida Statutes—when the notice of acceptance is filed or when the contract is performed?
The case arose out of an automobile accident which occurred during the course and scope of the plaintiff’s employment. The plaintiff received workers compensation benefits for his injuries. The workers compensation carrier appeared in the case and notified the parties of the lien. The plaintiff served a proposal for settlement upon both the driver and owner of the vehicle. They driver and owner filed a written notice of acceptance. They then sent a settlement check to the plaintiff that was made payable to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorney’s law firm, and the workers compensation carrier. The plaintiff rejected the check and claimed that it was not a mirror image of the offer and therefore, there was no settlement agreement. The trial court found there was no settlement. The case proceeded to trial and resulted in a multi-million-dollar judgment against the defense.
On appeal, the Second District Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court and found that no settlement resulted. The Second District required performance for the settlement contract to arise. This decision was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Supreme Court reversed the Second District’s decision finding that the statute carefully articulated that the party only needed to file a written notice of acceptance to create the settlement agreement. The Court found that when the defense filed the notice of acceptance, an enforceable contract was created. The jury verdict was reversed. The case will be remanded to determine whether there was a breach of that settlement agreement.
About Kansas R. Gooden
Kansas Gooden is Board Certified in Appellate Practice by The Florida Bar and is AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. She serves as the firm’s Appellate Practice Group Leader. Kansas is an expert in handling all types of civil appellate proceedings, including extraordinary writs and plenary appeals, in state and federal courts.
Ms. Gooden is active in the Florida Bar’s Appellate Section. Over the past decade, she has served on the Executive Council and has chaired the CLE Committee. As chair, Ms. Gooden is responsible for creating and organizing the CLE programing for the section.
Ms. Gooden is on the board of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association as the President and serves as the chair of the organization’s Amicus Committee. On behalf of the organization, she authors and co-authors amicus briefs in important cases impacting tort, litigation, and insurance issues. She also serves on the board of directors of the Third District Court of Appeal Historical Society.
Ms. Gooden is a frequent speaker on appellate topics, including preservation of error, for both attorneys and adjusters. She is licensed in Florida (2008).