In Wallen v. Tyson, a Florida man was killed in a car accident. After the incident, the other motor vehicle driver filed a lawsuit against the decedent’s estate. The estate offered the driver a $12,000 settlement, which included a release of liability for all claims arising out of the accident. The document stated that it was not a ‘general’ release and indicated that the driver could seek damages from any person except for the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The driver supposedly ignored the settlement proposal and went straight to trial.
At trial, the driver was awarded an amount of $13,000. The court reduced this amount by approximately $3,800 for payments that were made beforehand by his insurer.
The plaintiff moved to strike the settlement proposal, alleging it was vague and unenforceable. The trial court struck the proposal, stating that the language pertaining to the release was too vague and ambiguous. The clause at issue was one that stated that the plaintiff was open to any suggested changes to the release. The trial court reasoned that by having a release clause but saying that the clause was negotiable, the clause essentially failed to inform the plaintiff of “any of the release terms.”