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How Would Sanctions When Two Parties Make A Joint Offer Of Judgment to a Defendant?

Tucson, AZ |

A Plaintiff and an Intervenor-Plaintiff decide to make a joint offer of judgment to a group of 4 Defendants of which totals $100,000 (apportioned as $25,000 to each of the 4 Defendants). All 4 Defendants reject their offer of judgment and the case proceeds to a trial. At trial, the jury awards the Plaintiff $100,000 and the Intervenor $200,000 for a total of $300,000. Would the Rule 68 sanctions apply to the 4 Defendants in such a scenario? Are all 4 Defendants responsible for the costs sanctions for both Plaintiff and Intervenor?

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Attorney answers 3

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Under an offer of judgment under the federal rules of civil procedure, if a settlement offer is made correctly pursuant to the rule and the offer is rejected and the final court decision is less favorable than the final offer that was made, then the party who rejected the offer is subject to certain penalties. However, the actual procedure under various state versions of the rule and the applicable penalties vary by state, often including a combination of an award to the other party of attorney fees, compensable litigation costs and sometimes prejudgment interest. Usually the award is limited to fees, costs and interest accumulated after the offer is made or rejected. So, you really need to consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction thoroughly familiar with the local rules of court, which can vary widely not only state to state but also court to court within the state. I haven't posted a blog article on this subject - yet - but thanks for the idea and here is my civil law and personal injury law blog: BLUE LINK BELOW

Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers, North Andover, MA & Derry, NH provide answers for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be given by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, thoroughly familiar with the area of the law in which your concern lies. This creates no attorney-client relationship.

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Attorney Myers laid it out well

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I am going to assume you are in Arizona state court because the federal rule applies to defendants' offers of judgment. This must be a hypothetical because I can not imagine that you won $300,000 at trial without an attorney who knows how to apply Rule 68. The Arizona rule allows either party in litigation to make an offer of judgment, and if that offer is rejected and the party rejecting it does not do better at trail, the party having rejected the offer must pay reasonable expert witness fees and double taxable costs. In your scenario, the sanction would be divided four ways among the four defendants who all rejected the joint offer, unless the joint offer was not apportioned correctly under the rules, not only as to the defendants, but also apportioned between the plaintiff and intervenor. In that case, the defendants may be able to avoid having to pay the sanctions at all.

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