Injury Law Updates – Week of June 17, 2019

 

First DCA

None Discussed This Week.

Second DCA

None Discussed This Week.

Third DCA

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida v. Lewis Tein P.L., et. al. (No. 3D18-1132) – Offer of Judgment

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida was sued by three plaintiffs for damages arising out of conduced in prior lawsuits.  During litigation, Miccosukee Tribe served three offers of judgement in the amount of $2,500.00 to each Plaintiff.  The offers of judgment were not accepted. Following dismissal of the action, Miccosukee Tribe moved for attorney’s fees pursuant to Florida Statute Section 768.79 based on the nonacceptance of the offers of judgment.  The trial court denied the motion finding the offers of judgment were made in bad faith as they were 1) nominal and 2) made nine months into the case.

The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s denial.  In so doing they found that under section 768.79, “a right of attorney’s fees is established once the two statutory requisites are satisfied” – in this case 1) serving and offer of judgment, and 2) recovering a judgment at least 25 percent more than the offer.  This entitled the Miccosukee Tribe to attorney’s fees.

However, even when entitled to attorney’s fees as a result of an offer of judgment, where a court believes the offer was not made in good faith it may disallow an award of costs and attorney’s fees.  The trial court’s reasons for finding the offers of judgment were not made in good faith were the low amount of the offer and the time at which the offer was served. The Third District discarded both reasons.  

As it related to the offer, the Third District reiterated that even nominal offers can be made in good faith.  It also restated that a nominal offer cannot be negated where the offerer had a reasonable basis to conclude that the exposure was nominal or minimal.  Instead of looking at solely the amount of the offer, one must look at the subjective motivations and beliefs of the offerer. Where the offerer has a basis in known, or reasonably believed, fact to conclude the offer is justified, the good faith requirement of the amount is justified.

As it related to the timing of the offer, the Third District pointed out that the statute awards fees not from the conception of the action but rather “incurred from the date the offer was served.”  As such, the statute envisions offers of judgment being served well into litigation. In addition, the service of the offer of judgment did not violate the proscribed time restrictions.

Fourth DCA

None Discussed This Week.

Fifth DCA

None Discussed This Week.

 

About Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney Justin H. Presser

Justin H. Presser is an award-winning attorney and founder of Presser Law, P.A. representing clients in the areas of personal injury, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful death and more.  With an office located in Altamonte Springs, Florida, Presser Law, P.A., proudly services clients throughout Central Florida including the following areas:  Orange County including Orlando, Ocoee, Doctor Phillips, Apopka, Winter Garden, Winter Park, Maitland, College Park, Thornton Park;  Seminole County including Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Winter Springs, Lake Mary, Oviedo, Casselberry, Chuluota;  Lake County including Clermont, Mount Dora, Eustis, Tavares, Leesburg, Sorrento; and Brevard County including Melbourne, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Titusville, Palm Bay.

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