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Trial lawyers specializing in personal injury and civil litigation

Looks like everyone is hunting for bear.

Timothy and Noah Baxter hired Dennis Geurink and Outdoor Adventures to take them on a bear-hunting trip to Russia.  They were disappointed by their "outdoor adventure" and sued for $22,000.00 in damages.  The Defendants made an offer of $1,000.00 to settle the claim, which the Baxters rejected.  Later the Baxters offered to settle for $10,000.00 and the Defendants rejected.  After a bench trial (before the judge without a jury) the Defendants achieved a judgment that they owed nothing and sought sanctions of $46,000.00 in costs and fees. 

The Court held that since the Baxters had rejected their initial offer, the Defendants were entitled to actual costs and fees, but "out of fairness" limited the fees to less than $2,000.00.  On appeal the Circuit Judge reversed and awarded the entire amount of fees and costs claimed ($46,000.00).  The Court of Appeals reversed this decision and returned the case to the District Court for a hearing to determine whether the Defendants actually incurred fees and expenses of twice the amount they were being sued for--or whether they were, in essence, "piling on" by trying to profit from the successful defense.  The higher court agreed that there was some "gamesmanship" involved in the Defnedants' original nominal offer, but did not think this justified limiting sanctions to a nominal amount.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262