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Why a request for a written settlement offer?

Hemet, CA |

I sued a large bank and their local counsel asked me to send him a written settlement offer, seemingly as interested in ending things as I was after a year of contentious litigation.

I feel like this is a trap to get me to violate some protocall. I have actually heard of demand letters from non-lawyers being considered blackmail or some other prohibited activity.

I represent myself as Plaintiff and am done with the fight that is taking up too much of my life but don't want to be stupid at the end. Is there anything to be wary of? From everything I know settlement is accomplished by conference or agreement.

Attorney Answers 3


They are asking you to propose a settlement. If it is something they can live with, they will agree. If not, then they will propose a counter-offer of their own. The only "trap" is that if you propose something and they accept, then it would be a binding settlement agreement. So you do not want to suggest anything you cannot live with.

Settlements are favored by courts and most cases DO settle. Something in the high 90%s. If you are concerned about "giving away the farm", then you can always hire an attorney to review things and assist you. At this point, however, it is likely to take someone several hours to get up to speed, and you may not want to pay for that kind of investment.

It sounds like perhaps both sides want to resolve this situation. It is certainly worth a shot. If it does not work, you can always suggest facilitation or mediation, as means of settling this case.

Best of luck to you!

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

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You're pro per, so you're acting as a lawyer here, and you're the only one who's able to send them a demand. Don't worry about blackmail or protocol.

Here's one thing that's unique about a written offer in CA: CA lawyers are REQUIRED by our ethical rules to transmit written settlement offers to our clients, but we don't need to transmit oral offers. I'm guessing this bank's lawyer wants you to commit in writing to something so he can show his client what you want, as well as to force you to stick to a number.

You should write on your offer that it's inadmissible per the Evidence Code. That's more important to a defendant, because the CA Evidence Code addresses liability and you're the plaintifff so they're the ones that have to worry about admitting liabiity.

Leave yourself some wiggle room, Write something like "subject to an acceptable settlement agreement," and make sure your demand is something you're actually willing to settle for. Include all non-monetary aspects to the offer as well as monetary ones, and include their release of you, as well as yours of them.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

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James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Great practical advice!

Hillary Johns

Hillary Johns


I agree, great advice by Ms. Koslyn!


If you make an offer, perhaps you can get the case settled and not worry about preparing for trial and the mountain of paperwork involved in civil litigation. Also, every court has rules that require the parties to exchange settlement offers to see if the case can be resolved without the court having to set aside days or weeks for the trial. Almost all cases settle without trial, often well before the trial date is even close. As mus. Koslyn stated, the settlement offer itself is inadmissible as evidence for trial or summary judgment, though you do need to be cautious about what information other than the settlement you include in your letter. On the other hand, if the other side may ask you about something at your deposition, then perhaps it does not make a difference one way or the other what your settlement letters state.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
Twitter: @RStempler

NOTICE: The above statements are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended as legal advice or advice of any sort for a specific case or legal matter. If you do not have a signed attorney-client fee agreement with the Consumer Law Office of Robert Stempler, APLC ("the Firm"), then until such written fee agreement is provided and signed by both a prospective client and attorney for a particular case, neither Mr. Stempler nor the Firm will represent you nor will they be your attorney in any matter and you remain responsible for retaining your own attorney and for compliance with any and all deadlines and for any statutes of limitations that may pertain to potential claims. Comments made on a public forum, such as, to not have any confidentiality because others may read them. If you desire a private consultation with Mr. Stempler that is confidential, please go to and submit a free eCase Review.

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