After six years of litigation, two appeals to the First District Court of Appeals and a petition for review to the Florida Supreme Court, Brian Guter finally obtained a judgment in January 2023 in favor of his clients by establishing that the Plaintiffs’ lawsuit was barred by a prior settlement.
The case arose from a motor vehicle crash that occurred in January of 2016. Within months of the accident, the insurer responded to a time-limited settlement demand by tendering the requested sums of money. The Plaintiffs repudiated the settlement and filed suit in April of 2016. After extensive discovery, including the deposition of the claims professional that responded to the demand letter, two orders denying motions for summary judgment, and an order denying a motion to bifurcate the settlement defense, Brian appealed the trial court’s order determining that there was no settlement as a matter of law because the insurer’s insurance disclosure purportedly failed to comply with Florida law.
On appeal, Brian argued before the First DCA panel that the disclosure did meet the technical requirements of Florida’s insurance disclosure statute, and pointed out that there was no issue taken with the disclosure prior to the Motion for Summary Judgment, or before the time-limited settlement demand was sent. The First DCA agreed with Brian and overturned the trial court’s order. The First DCA found that the insurer’s disclosure was in complete compliance with Florida law, and even more, it wasn’t consideration in support of the offered bargain proposed by the Plaintiffs. The appellate court determined that there was a pre-suit settlement and remanded the case for entry of judgment. The Florida Supreme Court refused to review the case after jurisdictional briefs were submitted, and a judgment taxing costs was entered in favor of Brian’s clients.