Last week, a Florida appellate court reversed an award of attorney’s fees awarded following an offer of judgment because “ambiguities in the offer prevent its enforceability.” The cause of the ambiguity: misplaced apostrophes:
The offer was apostrophe-challenged, creating ambiguities as to whether the drafter intended references to singular or plural defendants or plaintiffs. The offer, entitled “Defendant’s Joint Proposal for Settlement,” also appears to have been adopted from a form without sufficient editing; it requires “Plaintiff’(s)” to “execute a stipulation,” and “Plaintiff(s)” to “execute a general release of “Defendant(s).”
This case reminds me of a recurring question: Is it “attorney’s fees” or “attorneys’ fees”? Garner’s Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage says that either is okay. The former is prevalent, but the latter may be preferable when more than one attorney is referred to.
p.s. (23 Apr. 2013): To read Garner’s take on “attorney’s fees” v. “attorneys’ fees,” click here.