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UNINSURED MOTORIST BENEFITS - SAGAMORE INS. CO. V. SUDDUTH

In Sagamore Ins. Co. v. Sudduth, [Ms. 2080740, March 26, 2010] ___ So. 3d. ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2010), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals analyzed facts similar to Lambert v. State Farm, 576 So.2d 160 (Ala. 1991) concerning uninsured motorist benefits. In Sudduth, plaintiff's counsel settled plaintiff's claims against the tortfeasor driver, and signed a release, before placing the UM carrier on notice of the potential settlement offer. The UM carrier's counsel sent a letter to plaintiff's counsel advising him that the carrier would tender the tortfeasor's policy limits and preserve its subrogation rights against the tortfeasor. Plaintiff's counsel construed the letter to be an offer to extend additional settlement proceeds and responded by accepting the UM carrier's "offer." The UM carrier's counsel responded to plaintiff's counsel's letter rejecting the "offer" and informing plaintiff's counsel that there was no coverage since the carrier was not placed on notice of the settlement offer prior to signing the release. Plaintiff sought to enforce the "settlement offer" and the trial court entered an order granting plaintiff's motion. The Court of Civil Appeals held that the letters between the parties did not constitute an enforceable contract since there was no "meeting of the minds," reversed the trial court's order, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
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