Florida is one of the relatively few jurisdictions with an offer of judgment statute with teeth — if the plaintiff rejects an offer, under certain conditions he can owe the defendant post-offer attorney fees. The Florida Supreme Court recently applied this statute to the state’s no-fault Personal Injury Protection scheme, saying the statute does not conflict with either the no-fault concept or a separate statute that allows attorney fees to policyholders, but not insurers, in a lawsuit over an insurer’s alleged breach of duty. Here’s the case, State Farm v. Shannon Nichols. Here’s the news report that made so little sense it prompted me to hunt down the case and read it for myself.
The case has some troubling implications for potentially chilling policyholder suits, but these are somewhat lessened when you consider the insurer could only collect fees if it makes an offer at all and will consent to entry of judgment against it.