The Florida Supreme Court found that a joint offer of settlement cannot be conditioned on the mutual consent of all joint offerees. The case came before the Court after Attorneys’ Title served an offer of judgment on Plaintiffs Gorka and Larson. The offer was conditioned on the Plaintiffs mutual acceptance and neither party could independently accept the offer. The Fla. Sup. Ct.concluded that such mutual proposals are invalid since neither party can exercise independent control over the decision to end litigation.
The expected result of the attorneys’ fee sanction was
to reduce litigation costs and conserve judicial resources by encouraging the
settlement of legal actions. See Sarkis v. Allstate Ins. Co., 863 So. 2d 210,
218 (Fla. 2003). The effect, however, has been in sharp contrast to the
intended outcome because the statute and rule have seemingly increased
litigation as parties dispute the respective validity and enforceability of
these offers. See, e.g., Security Professionals, Inc. v. Segall, 685 So.
2d 1381, 1384 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997) (“We regret that this case is just one more
example of the offer of judgment statute causing a proliferation of litigation,
rather than fostering its primary goal to “terminate all claims, end disputes,
and obviate the need for further intervention of the judicial process.””)