Middle District of Florida Rules in Favor of Insurer Where No Meeting of the Minds Occurred in Rescinded Settlement Offer: Goodman v. SAFECO Insurance Co. of Illinois

In Goodman v. SAFECO Insurance Co. of Illinois, an insurance company provided bodily injury and other automobile coverage to a woman whose vehicle was involved in a 2012 traffic wreck. Immediately prior to the collision, the owner of the insured vehicle apparently allowed another individual to drive her car. Unfortunately, the man who borrowed the vehicle was involved in an accident while he was operating the insured auto. Following the collision, a plaintiff who was allegedly hurt in the traffic wreck filed a personal injury claim seeking $200,000 from the owner of the vehicle’s insurance company. In response, the insurer offered to settle the plaintiff’s claim for the insured’s bodily injury liability limit of $100,000 per person. Following the offer, the insurance company and the plaintiff reportedly entered into negotiations regarding the plaintiff’s property damage.

A few months later, the plaintiff filed a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violations under Florida Statute Section 624.155. According to the plaintiff, the automobile insurance company failed to act in good faith when it attempted to settle the plaintiff’s car accident claim. In addition, the plaintiff stated her claim could be settled for about $107,000. Later, the insurer withdrew its settlement offer and stated the company was not required to cover the automobile accident. In response, the plaintiff filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the insurer and the owner of the vehicle that allegedly harmed her in a Florida court. The insurance company then removed the case to the Middle District of Florida.

Eventually, the insurer filed a motion for summary judgment against the plaintiff asserting that it could not have breached a settlement agreement with her absent the existence of an enforceable contract. When a party to a lawsuit files a motion for summary judgment, the party is asking the court to rule in its favor without proceeding to trial. In general, such a motion will not be granted unless there is no material issue of fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A court must view a motion for summary judgment in the light that is most favorable to the non-moving party.

After stating that Florida law applied to the parties’ dispute, the Middle District of Florida discussed the elements required for an enforceable contract including offer, acceptance, consideration, and sufficient specification of terms. According to the federal court, the plaintiff failed to accept the insurer’s offer of $100,000 before it was rescinded. Because there was no mutual assent, or meeting of the minds, regarding the insurer’s offer to the plaintiff and she failed to execute a release the insurer included with its offer, the court held that the insurance company was entitled to summary judgment.

If you were hurt in an automobile collision, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your injuries. To discuss your case with a skilled South Florida personal injury lawyer, please contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call today at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Goodman v. SAFECO Insurance Co. Of Illinois, Dist. Court, MD Florida 2014

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