Proposal For Settlement Cannot Require Indemnity For Non-Settling Party

Personal Injury

In the case of Safepoint Insurance Company v. Shanika Brown and Juanita Reid, Case Number 3D18-347 (Fla. 3rd DCA August 7, 2019), Florida’s Third DCA held that a proposal for settlement requiring the settling plaintiff to indemnify the defense for attorney fees and costs incurred by the non-settling plaintiff was not enforceable.

Underlying Facts

The Plaintiffs in this case (Ms. Brown and Ms. Reid) filed a claim with Safepoint insurance for water damage (this was not a personal injury case but the application of the proposal for settlement is the same).

In any event, the Plaintiffs sued to recover for the losses and were presented with an offer of $2,500 each. Further, this $2,500 offer to each Plaintiff required that they would agree to “indemnify” Safepoint for attorney fees and costs from continuing litigation in the event that the other Plaintiff did not settle.

The specific language in the proposal is below:

Upon acceptance of this Proposal, Plaintiff shall defend and indemnify SAFEPOINT INSURANCE COMPANY, against any and all claims in any way related to the subject matter of this litigation, including, but not limited to, any remaining claims by SHANIKA BROWN, any other named or omnibus insured(s), any mortgagees, any public adjusters, and any and all attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses incurred by SAFEPOINT INSURANCE COMPANY, in defending the same, as well as any attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defense of such claims.

Holding On Appeal

Language from an insurance company is always a mouthful, however, the Third DCA commented that this language “would only cause further litigation” because is Ms. Brown were to accept the proposal, then she would be obligated to pay an “indeterminable amount of money” which goes against the particularity requirement for proposals for settlement (Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442).

Likewise, the rule of law continues to be that each proposal must allow each person to whom an offer is made to “settle the suit knowing the extent of his or her financial responsibility.” See Attorneys’ Title Ins. Fund, Inc. v. Gorka, 36 So. 3d 646 (Fla. 2010).

Get Help With Your Case

Unless you have been through the litigation process before, it is hard to know that things like this exist. Proposals for settlement are a form of “reform” to the judicial system that are at least simple in theory. However, in reality, punishing a litigant losing at trial may cause people to act even more unreasonably when it comes to litigation.

This is why you cannot effectively represent yourself in our adversarial legal system. After you have been injured because of another person’s fault, hiring a personal injury attorney with the experience to help you is essential to the successful resolution of your case. Call today to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Lakeland, Florida.

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August 09, 2019