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Florida Supreme Court rules that motion to enlarge time to respond to proposal for settlement does not automatically toll the running of the 30-day time period for accepting the proposal

On May 17, 2018 in Koppel v. Ochoa, No. SC16-1474, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a motion to enlarge the time to respond to a proposal for settlement submitted pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442. did not toll the 30-day time period to accept the proposal. The defendant had argued that her filing of a motion to enlarge time pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.090 automatically tolled the time period for accepting the proposal until the motion was decided. While the trial court denied the motion for enlargement of time, the court agreed that tolling applied, allowing the defendant to accept the proposal without incurring the fee sanctions imposed by the rule. The Second DCA reversed in Ochoa v. Koppel, 197 So. 3d 77 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016), and certified conflict on this issue with Goldy v. Corbett Cranes Services, Inc., 692 So. 2d 225 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997). The Florida Supreme Court concluded that neither Rule 1.442 nor § 768.79 contains language suggesting that tolling would apply once a motion to enlarge is filed. The Court indicated that the defendant had misplaced her reliance on Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.010, which allows for statutory interpretation considering the purpose of the rules, because such an analysis is only permitted if the underlying rule is ambiguous.

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