Miley, the Second District found that a proposal for settlement was properly
drafted, and thus, reversed the trial court's denial of a motion for
entitlement to attorneys' fees and costs. The case arose from an automobile
accident, in which a vehicle driven by Kyle Miley and owned by Glenn Miley
collided into a vehicle driven by Martha Nash. Martha Nash later filed
suit against the Mileys seeking bodily injury damages, and her husband
Garfield made a claim for loss of consortium. Before trial, one of the
defendants, Kyle Miley, served a proposal for settlement offering to pay
$59,590 in "an attempt to resolve all claims and causes of action
resulting from the incident or accident giving rise to this lawsuit brought
by plaintiff Martha Nash against Defendant Kyle Miley." The proposal
required Martha Nash to dismiss both Glenn and Kyle Miley from the lawsuit.
After trial, Martha Nash was awarded $17,955. The defendant, Kyle Miley
moved for attorneys' fees pursuant to her proposal of settlement.
The trial court denied the motion, finding several deficiencies. The Second
District disagreed with each.
First, the Second District found that the proposal sufficiently identified
the claims to be resolved. The language of the proposal clearly stated
that it was targeted to address any and "all claims and causes of
action resulting from the incident or accident giving rise to the lawsuit
brought by Plaintiff Martha Nash against Defendant Kyle Miley." The
proposal was, therefore, meant to resolve the bodily injury claims brought
by Martha Nash, and not the consortium claim brought by Garfield Nash.
The Second District noted that such general statements regarding the claims
to be resolved are sufficient under the rule. It is unnecessary to specifically
identify the various elements of damages if the proposal indicates that
it is meant to resolve all claims identified in the complaint. The Second
District found that the proposal's language did not contain an ambiguity
that would render Martha Nash unable to make an informed decision without
The Second District next found that the proposal did not need to address
Garfield Nash's consortium claim. The rules do not require a proposal
to address every claim, but rather on those that the proposal attempts
to resolve. The Second District noted that Garfield's consortium claim
was separate from Martha's bodily injury claim, even though it was
derivative, and the proposal required no action or input on the part of
Garfield. The proposal was not deficient for failing to address Garfield's
claim, because it explicitly said that it was meant to cover all claims
brought by Martha.
Third, the Second District found that the proposal met the particularity
requirements under the statute and the rule. The relevant conditions of
the proposal were included and sufficiently described: the exact amount
Kyle Miley would pay; the exact claims the proposal would resolve; the
action to be taken by Martha Nash, namely dismissal, that each party will
bear its own fees and costs, and that Glenn Miley would also be dismissed.
The Second District also found that the trial court erred in characterizing
the proposal as a joint proposal. Joint proposals must state the amount
and terms attributable to each party. The Second District, however, found
that the proposal plainly stated that it was being made solely by Kyle
Miley to Martha Nash. Requiring Martha Nash to release both Kyle and Glenn
Miley did not render the proposal a joint one, and it did not invalidate
the offer in any other way.
The Second District therefore reversed.