Offers of Compromise

An offer of compromise under section 998 of the Code of Civil Procedure is a powerful tool to end litigation. If the other side does not accept the offer, it may result in financial penalties unless the other side's recovery is more than the section 998 offer. So, if you offer $10,000 under section 998 to settle a case, for example, the plaintiff has to do better than $10,000 at trial or the post-offer costs must be paid to the defendant.
But section 998 offers are tricky. The Court of Appeal recently held that a section 998 offer may not condition settlement on a "general release" of "all claims" (claims over and above what is included in the lawsuit that is the subject of the section 998 offer). The case is Chen v. Interinsurance Exchange and the opinion is here.