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Florida Fourth DCA rules that proposal for settlement was not rendered unenforceable because it referenced but did not incorporate the language of a joint stipulation for dismissal

On June 21, 2017, in Sherman v. Savastano, No. 4D16-2793, the Florida Fourth DCA reversed a trial court’s ruling that a defendant’s proposal for settlement was ambiguous and unenforceable. The plaintiff successfully argued before the trial court that the proposal was ambiguous because it was contingent on the execution of a joint stipulation for dismissal and failed to provide the language of the stipulation of dismissal. On appeal, the Fourth DCA likened the case to State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Nichols, 932 So. 2d 1067, 1078 (Fla. 2006), in which the proposal summarized the intended language of a release without incorporating the release itself. In that case, the Florida Supreme Court held that a summary was sufficient if it “eliminated any reasonable ambiguity” about the scope of the release. The Fourth DCA concluded that the only potential ambiguity in the joint stipulation was whether the case would be dismissed with prejudice, but this was clarified in the proposal itself.

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