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Florida First DCA rules that $1.3 million proposal for settlement made by plaintiff to defendant with only $50,000 of liability insurance was not made in good faith

On May 25, 2022, in State Farm v. Lightfoot et al., No. 1D20-2285, the Florida First DCA reversed a trial court ruling which had held that a proposal for settlement (PFS) by a plaintiff in a motor vehicle negligence case was valid and enforceable as a basis for the award of attorney’s fees and costs after trial.The PFS required the defendant driver to tender $1.3 million in cash within 30 days, but the available insurance limits were only $50,000, so the balance of the $1.3 million would have been paid by the defendant personally. The First DCA concluded that the PFS was not made in good faith, explaining that “the offer was illusory as there was no real possibility Ms. Hunt could accept.” The First DCA stated that “it is the specific combination of $1.3 million ‘cash on the barrelhead’ that renders this PFS illusory.” The First DCA opined that “if, for instance, the PFS could have been accepted by signing a promissory note for $1.3 million or by agreeing to have a judgment entered for $1.3 million, it would be perfectly valid.”

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