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Nominal Proposals for Settlement are Held Valid Where the Offeror Has a Reasonable Basis to Believe that Exposure to Liability is Minimal

By Karma Hall, Esq.

On May 31, 2017, Florida's 1st DCA was asked to resolved alleged inconsistencies in prior holdings involving the question of whether a nominal proposal for settlement offer can be made in good faith. In Taylor Eng'g, Inc. v. Dickerson Fla., Inc., Case No. 1D15-4782 (Fla. 1st DCA May 31, 2017), the Appellee, Dickerson, argued that the Taylor's proposal for settlement was a nominal offer that was not made in good faith, and for this reason the trial court should disallow an award of costs and attorneys' fees. To support his argument, Dickerson pointed to § 768.79(7)(a), Fla. Stat., which provides: If a party is entitled to costs and fees pursuant to the provisions of this section, the court may, in its discretion, determine that an offer was not made in good faith. In such case, the court may disallow an award of costs and attorney’s fees. The 1st DCA disagreed it made inconsistent rulings concerning the standard in determining whether a nominal offer is…