final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Carlos A. Rodriguez, Judge; L.T. Case No.
CACE 16017545 (14).
C. Powell of The Powell Law Firm, P.A., Miami, for appellant.
Rose of Bernstein, Chackman, Liss, Hollywood, for appellee.
case invokes a fundamental tenet of contract law: the
symmetry needed between an offer and an acceptance to
establish an enforceable agreement. The plaintiff appeals an
order enforcing a settlement agreement. He argues the trial
court erred in enforcing the agreement because there was no
meeting of the minds. We disagree and affirm.
plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident with
the defendant. State Farm insured the defendant. The policy
contained a $25, 000 limit for bodily injury liability per
person, a $50, 000 limit for bodily injury per accident, and
a $10, 000 limit for property damage liability.
filing suit, plaintiff's counsel delivered a settlement
offer to State Farm, requesting State Farm to: (1) tender its
policy limits of $50, 000; (2) reimburse the plaintiff an
additional $10, 044 for his property loss; (3) provide an
affidavit from the defendant stating she had no other
insurance coverage; and (4) provide a certified copy of the
defendant's insurance policy. The settlement offer did
not address a release.
receiving the letter, State Farm accepted the offer and
provided the plaintiff with all requested documents. State
Farm enclosed a proposed release and requested it to be
executed by the plaintiff and his mother. State Farm's
Execution of the proposed release is not a condition of
settlement. Furthermore, the proposed release is not intended
to constitute a counter-offer to your settlement offer, or to
add any new terms or conditions to your proposed settlement
agreement. . . . If the proposed release is not acceptable to
you, please contact me so that we can attempt to reach an
agreement as to release language that is mutually acceptable
and consistent with your settlement offer.
plaintiff rejected State Farm's proposed release in a
letter, claiming the release contained unusual terms that
placed an undue burden on him. He requested State Farm
provide a standard release. Although he did not specify the
nature of his concern about the release, he suggests on
appeal that the release contained uncommon restrictions on
how the settlement funds could be spent.
Farm responded with a letter enclosing two proposed releases:
a revised version of the initial release, and a standard
release drafted by the Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida
Bar. The letter stated:
While it is our preference to have a release executed that
memorializes the settlement of the bodily injury claims,
execution of a release of the bodily injury claim is not a
condition of settlement. Accordingly, if the enclosed
releases are not acceptable to you, we withdraw our request
for a release.
counsel responded by returning the check and requesting State
Farm to issue two new checks: one for $10, 044 covering the
plaintiff's property damage, and another for $25, 000
issued to the plaintiff's mother. The letter instructed
State Farm not to ...