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Florida Third DCA withdraws previous opinion, holds that joint proposal for settlement was fatally ambiguous

On October 3, 2018, in Atlantic Civil, Inc. v. Swift, No. 3D15-1594, the Florida Third DCA withdraw it prior opinion, which had held that a proposal for settlement was valid and enforceable, and issued a new opinion reversing its previous decision. The proposal for settlement at issue was a joint proposal made to two defendants which apportioned out a total demand and each individual defendant’s individual financial responsibility but did not explicitly indicate that the proposal did not require acceptance by both defendants. This blogger had criticized the previous Third DCA decision as adopting a tortured construction of the proposal for settlement. However, the Third DCA’s revised decision is based not so much on a reevaluation of the actual language of the proposal for settlement as on a belated conclusion that Florida Supreme Court precedent compelled the result. In Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. v. Gorka, 36 So. 3d 646 (Fla. 2010), the Florida Supreme Court held that a strict application of the apportionment requirement of Fla. R. Civ. P. renders invalid a proposal for settlement that is “conditioned such that neither offeree can independently evaluate or settle his or her respective claim by accepting the proposal.”

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