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Eagleman v. Eagleman Case Brief

Summary of Eagleman v. Eagleman, 4th DCA of FL (1996)

Cause of action: The following is a cause of action for inclusion of attorney’s fees as the result of a deadlocked jury which resulted in no awarding of damages at trial to appellee.

Procedural History: Trial court declared mistrial.  On appeal of fees, this court rejects appellant’s claim.

Facts: Appellant stepped on appellee’s foot, causing him to miss time in his medical practice.  Appellant wife/DF at trial offered $100 settlement offer, which was rejected.

Issue(s): Under FRCP, does an offer for settlement of $100 qualify under the good faith requirement so that appellant may be awarded for all attorney’s fees involved in trying the case?

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: The trial record states that the offer made was not based on any reasonable foundation, but was made so that she could lay the groundwork for a large fee award.  The offer bore no similarity to the actual amount of damages requested by PL at trial, and instead was based on the fact she thought there would be no way she would be forced to pay any damages out of trial.  At trial, judge found her testimony to be inconsistent as to undermine her credibility to a jury.

Rule: In cases where liability is reasonably and realistically disputed, the offer of judgment need not equate with the total amount of damages.  The offer should bear a reasonable relationship both to the amount of damages and a realistic assessment of liability.

Holding: No. Appellant’s fee was not considered a good faith offer under the rule for several reasons, and thus is not applicable to hold appellee liable for any attorney’s fees during the course of trial.



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