Fatigue, Distress, And Second Thoughts Not Enough To Void A Mediated Settlement Agreement [Florida]

by Charles (Chuck) Rubin
Contact

Most will and trust disputes in Florida involve at least one mediation attempt – either by order of the trial court or agreement of the parties. Such mediations usually begin in the morning, and often do not wind-up until the evening or wee hours of the morning.

If a settlement is reached, smart mediators will attempt to have the parties negotiate and sign a binding settlement agreement before they leave. This is because if litigants have to time think about a settlement after leaving the mediation, they will often change heir minds and the settlement will evaporate. Thus, at the end of the mediation, litigants are often both physically and emotionally exhausted.

In a recent Florida case, the trial court allowed one of the parties to a will contest to escape from a mediated settlement agreement. The party claimed she was coerced into signing the mediation agreement after the mediator allegedly denied her request to take the agreement home over the weekend to study it.

The trial court noted:

The Court believes that the request for additional time to review was not given the priority or emphasis it should have because Ms. Linda Pierce was fatigued and emotionally distraught from the extensive mediation efforts. However, it is clear that Ms. Linda Pierce, after taking one night to reflect and review the terms of the Agreement, immediately went to the office of the mediator on Saturday morning and hand delivered a note requesting that the Agreement be rescinded. Ms. Linda Pierce also met with her attorney early the next Monday morning and instructed him to file a Motion to Vacate the Settlement Agreement. When Mr. Cummings suggested he could not file such a motion as it would put him in a position of a conflict of interest, Ms. Linda Pierce asked him to draft the Motion, which she then filed pro se.

The trial court concluded that Ms. Pierce had not “freely, knowingly and intelligently entered into the agreement.”

The appellate court reversed the trial court and ordered the settlement agreement to be enforced. To void the agreement, the presence of fraud, misrepresentation, coercion, or overreaching is needed. Fatigue, distress, and second thoughts are not enough.

The appellate court noted that emotion is not grounds to set aside an agreement, since courts recognize that it is normal for parties in these matters to be emotionally upset. Further, the parties were ably represented by counsel experienced in probate law, and the parties reviewed and corrected several drafts of the agreement over the course of the mediation. While the challenging party may have at one point made a request to review the agreement over the weekend, the fact that at the end of the day she had read and signed the agreement without requesting additional time for review was evidence of lack of coercion.

TAMRA E. PIERCE, Appellant, v. LINDA MARIE PIERCE IN RE: ESTATE OF CECILIE REDLINGER PIERCE, DECEASED, Appellee. 1st District. Case No. 1D13-1546. Opinion filed December 10, 2013

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Charles (Chuck) Rubin, Gutter Chaves Josepher Rubin Forman Fleisher P.A. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Charles (Chuck) Rubin
Contact
more
less

Gutter Chaves Josepher Rubin Forman Fleisher P.A. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.