Why a request for a written settlement offer?

Asked over 2 years ago - 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)

  1. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . 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... more
  2. Robert Harlan Stempler

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . 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... more
  3. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . 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... more

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