Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fourth DCA on Proposals for Settlement

In Alioto-Alexander v. Toll Bros. Inc. et al (4D08-1011), the Fourth DCA distinguished a proposal for settlement that is made by two parties from a proposal for settlement made by one party that dismisses the case in its entirety. The court stated:

During the course of the litigation, Toll Brothers served Alioto-Alexander with a $5,000 proposal for settlement, pursuant to the offer of judgment statute, section 768.79, Florida Statutes (2003). The proposal stated that it was being made by Toll Brothers, but provided that the offer was conditioned upon the dismissal of the entire action, including the claims against Barr. Toll Brothers and Barr prevailed in the underlying case giving rise to the attorney’s fees judgment on appeal.


Appellant insists that the proposal for settlement was a “joint proposal” from Toll Brothers and Barr. Accordingly, the proposal cannot support an attorney’s fee award as it failed to apportion the $5,000 between Toll Brothers and Barr. We disagree. By its own terms, the proposal for settlement was made by Toll Brothers and Toll Brothers alone was offering to pay the sum of $5,000. The dismissal of the entire suit, including the claims against Barr, was simply a condition of the proposal and did not serve to transform the proposal for settlement into one made by multiple offerors.


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