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Florida Third DCA rules that proposal for settlement issued to two defendants was invalid because it was conditioned on mutual acceptance by both defendants

On May 16, 2018, in Pacheco v. Gonzalez, No. 3D16-355, the Florida Third DCA reversed a trial court order granting attorney’s fees to plaintiff, concluding that the Proposal for Settlement which was declined by the defendant and thereby provided the basis for the fee award was invalid. The plaintiff had issued the proposal for settlement to two defendants, demanding $300,000 to be split equally by the defendants and requiring acceptance by both defendants. The Third DCA noted that this sort of joint “mutual acceptance” proposal has been ruled invalid by the Florida Supreme Court, citing Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. v. Gorka, 36 So. 3d 646 (Fla. 2010). In Gorka, the Florida Supreme Court held that joint offers “conditioned on the mutual acceptance of all joint offerees” are “invalid and unenforceable because it is conditioned such that neither offeree can independently evaluate or settle his or her respective claim by accepting the proposal.” Id. at 647.