Understanding Recent Changes in Litigation and Appeals 


In the Commercial Litigation and Appeals practice area, it is important to stay on top of new developments in the law and procedure, including changes to Florida Statutes, rules of procedure and new appellate court case law. This includes routinely reviewing new appellate opinions. I would like to discuss a couple of recent decisions that impact both litigation and appeals.  Generally, each party is responsible for their own attorney’s fees in litigation unless a statute or contract applies. Florida Statute § 768.79 creates a substantive right to attorney’s fees relating to a proposal for settlement or “PFS.” The purpose of a PFS is to encourage settlements and to act as a penalty against a party who rejects a reasonable settlement offer.  That statute is implemented by rule 1.442, which governs the form of such proposals. If a defendant serves a PFS, which is not accepted by the plaintiff within 30 days, the defendant shall be entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the defendant from the date of filing the offer, if the judgment is of no liability, or the judgment obtained by the plaintiff is at least 25% less than the amount offered in the PFS, and the court shall set off such costs and attorney’s fees against the award.  On the other hand, if a plaintiff serves a PFS which is not accepted by the defendant within 30 days, and the plaintiff recovers a judgment in an amount at least 25% greater than the offer, the plaintiff will be entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorney’s fees incurred from the date of serving the PFS.  As per the rule, a PFS must be in writing and must include a number of items. Currently, under the rule, a party serving a PFS must state the particularity of any relevant conditions, and to state the particularity of all non-monetary terms of the proposal. But recently, the Florida Supreme Court made an important change to the rule governing PFS. Effective July 1, 2022, this rule will no longer include the requirement that a PFS must state with particularity any...

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