Can the Time to Accept a Proposal for Settlement be Extended?
Although the case law isn’t entirely clear on whether or not the time to accept a proposal for settlement can be extended, there are certainly good arguments that it cannot. For example, Florida Statute 78.79 and Rule 1.442 contain no provision for extending the time to respond to a Plaintiff’s proposal for settlement. In contrast, they state in no uncertain terms that a proposal for settlement must be responded to within 30 days.
Additionally, at least one Court has found that a motion to enlarge the time to respond to a proposal for settlement does not toll the acceptance period. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. South Florida Med. Health Center, 24 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 21 (Fla. 11th Cir. Ct. 2016). In that case, the Plaintiff filed a motion to enlarge the time to respond to a proposal for settlement. After the motion was filed, the Defendant never withdrew the proposal for settlement – and the Plaintiff subsequently accepted the proposal for settlement on the 40th day after the proposal for settlement was conveyed. The appellate Court held that the motion to enlarge did not toll the acceptance period. The Court pointed out that Florida Statute 768.79 and Rule 1.442, which govern the use of proposals for settlement, must be strictly construed to permit only 30 days to accept a proposal for settlement.