Will You Beat a 998 Offer if You Later Settle for the Same Amount?
998 offers are often addressed by our California courts. Everyone knows you have to get a better result to get the benefits of a 998 offer. But what happens when a defendant serves a 998 offer, the plaintiff rejects it, and two years later on the day of trial the parties settle the case for the same amount as the 998 offer? Who is entitled to get the benefits of the 998 offer then? Last month, the Sixth District Court of Appeal published a new decision addressing this issue. To find out what they decided, watch the video and read my case summary below.
New CA Code of Civil Procedure Decision
Chen v. BMW of North America (2023) _ Cal.App.5th _ , 2022 WL 18407504: The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s post-verdict order awarding plaintiff $53,509.51 in attorney fees and costs in his action alleging breach of warranty and violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ. Code, § 1790, et seq.) and the Consumers Protection Act Legal Remedies Act (Civ. Code, § 1750, et seq.). During the litigation defendant sent a Code of Civil Procedure section 998 offer, agreeing to pay plaintiff $160,000 (exclusive of recoverable costs and attorney fees accrued to the date of the offer), and attorney fees and costs as awarded by the trial court. Plaintiff rejected the 998 offer, the litigation continued for two more years, and the parties settled on the day of trial with the settlement terms being essentially identical to the section 998 offer. The trial court properly concluded the 998 offer was valid, plaintiff did not do better than the offer, and properly limited the award of plaintiff’s fees and costs to $53,509.51, the fees and costs plaintiff accrued through July 2017, 45 days after the section 998 offer was made. (C.A. 6th, filed December 29, 2022, published January 23, 2023.)
I still take a few select civil cases where I represent plaintiffs or defendants in business, insurance bad faith, personal injury, real property and wrongful death actions. Using my experience as a California civil trial lawyer since 1980, and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates since 1995, my goal is to get each client the best possible result. My clients get the benefit of big firm experience with small firm attention and reasonable rates.
I also offer trial consultation services to help lawyers who have not tried many cases to excellently prepare for trial and try a case.
To discuss a potential case, email me at [email protected], or call me at (619) 990-4312.
I also help attorneys and their clients by serving as a mediator, arbitrator and referee at ADR Services, Inc., handling cases in the areas of business, commercial, employment, insurance bad faith, insurance coverage, landlord-tenant (commercial and residential), legal malpractice, medical malpractice, personal injury, real property and wrongful death. To schedule an ADR matter with me, contact my case manager at ADR services, Haward Cho, [email protected], (213) 683-1600 or (619) 233-1323.
Until my next blog post, stay safe and healthy.
Monty A. McIntyre, Esq.
Master Lawyer Mentoring™
Civil Trial Attorney
Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee
California Case Summaries™
CA Civil Trial Attorney Since 1980
ABOTA Member Since 1995
Past President San Diego County Bar Assn., SD ABOTA Chapter
Phone: (619) 990-4312. Email: [email protected]