Attorney’s Fees and Invalid Proposals for Settlements
What happens if you are seeking attorney’s fees under section under section 768.79 of the Florida Statutes but the settlement offer was not valid. Is a general offer to settle both equitable and damage claims permitted? What if the proposal for settlement is unambiguous? What if the proposal for settlement was conditioned on something? When does section 768.79 apply? A November 21, 2018 Fourth DCA opinion, Starboad Cruise Services, Inc. v. DePrince discusses this issue.
Here, the Fourth DCA agreed with the trial court that Starboard’s settlement for proposal was invalid. Therefore, they affirmed the trial court’s order denying attorney’s fees based on the proposal for settlement. The Fourth DCA explains that the proposal for settlement was invalid under section 768.79 because it was conditioned on the plaintiff releasing all claims asserted and dismissal with prejudice of all counts of the amended complaint, and the Plaintiff’s amended complaint contained both claims for monetary damages and equitable relief. If an offer seeks to settle all claims, both equitable and monetary, the offer is invalid under the statute. To read the entire case, click here.