On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court resolved a conflict between the district courts of appeal and held that the mere filing of a motion to enlarge time under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.090(b) does not toll the time to accept the proposal. Koppel v. Ochoa, No. SC16-1474 (Fla. May 17, 2018)
It’s important to note what this opinion does not hold. The opinion does not hold motions to enlarge time to accept proposals for settlement are improper. To the contrary, the opinion states, “Rule 1.090 allows for the time period set forth in rule 1.442 to be enlarged, but this enlargement is at the trial court’s discretion if the motion was filed before expiration of the time period and cause has been shown.” Even after the time period to accept the offer has expired, a court may enlarge it if excusable neglect and good cause are shown.
But a favorable ruling on the motion to enlarge time is necessary. So in Koppel, the party receiving the proposal could not automatically toll the time for acceptance by filing a motion to enlarge time and then accept the proposal before the trial court ruled on its enlargement motion–under circumstances in which the trial court actually denied the motion to enlarge time.
The take-away: If you want to extend the time to consider a proposal for settlement, move to enlarge the time quickly and try to obtain a ruling before the time period expires.