Novara Law Receives Favorable Decision from Michigan Court of Appeals for Insurance Client
The Michigan Court of Appeals recently overturned a decision in favor of a Novara Law insurance client — a case that involved over six figures in exposure and has practical reminders for clients and counsel alike.
Early on, Novara Law’s litigators attempted to negotiate a settlement with the plaintiff, and all offers were rejected. Trial preparation then began. With a trial imminent, the plaintiff attempted at the last minute to accept an offer made months prior. Novara’s trial team argued that the prior rejection had terminated that offer, and regardless, preparations were already underway for the trial. The plaintiff filed a Motion to Enforce the Settlement and the trial court granted it, trying to enforce a settlement that did not have a true “meeting of the minds.”
Novara Law’s appellate team, led by Partner Kaitlyn Cramer and Associate Courtney Lavender, successfully convinced the Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn this decision, arguing that (1) the offer had been terminated as a matter of law by Plaintiff’s original rejection; (2) that sufficient time had passed for the offer to also be considered lapsed; and (3) that nothing in trial counsel’s actions or statements had suggested the offer was revived or “still on the table.” Rather, the trial court had imposed a hefty settlement upon the insurer after the insurer had incurred extensive trial preparation costs. The Court of Appeals agreed, arguing that there was not an agreement between the parties and any holding to the contrary was an abuse of discretion by the trial court.
“This case is a good reminder that if an offer or counteroffer is rejected, include an expiration date or make it clear that once trial preparation begins, all offers are off the table,” said Cramer.