If you have been sued, one method to promote a settlement early in a case is to utilize a tool provided by the Rules of Procedure called an “offer of judgment.” An offer of judgment is just what its name implies. The defendant offers to allow judgment to be taken against him or her for a specified amount. The plaintiff typically has a limited time to either accept or reject the offer (in Arizona it is 30 days.)
If the plaintiff refuses to accept the offer of judgment, and later gets an award that is less than the offer, the defendant will have the right to costs, sanctions, and expert witness fees, and the existence of the offer may be considered by the court in deciding whether to award attorneys’ fees as well. Typically, the offer of judgment will be for significantly less than the asserted claim.
Obviously, the submission of the offer with the possibility of significant penalties places a fair amount of pressure on the plaintiff, who will have to carefully consider whether it is worth proceeding with the case. There are specific formalities in the rules of procedure that have to be fulfilled in order for an offer of judgment to be later deemed valid, however, so it is important to consult with your attorney should you wish to use this tool.
Michael L. Kitchen
Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.