Sanchez v. Prudential Pizza, Inc., No. 12-2208 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Sanchez sued her employer for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Before trial, Sanchez accepted an offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, which permits a defendant to serve on an opposing party “an offer to allow judgment on specified terms, with the costs then accrued.” If the offer is rejected and the “judgment that the offeree finally obtains is not more favorable than the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the offer was made.” The district court entered judgment in Sanchez’s favor but denied her request for attorney fees and costs in addition to the amount specified in theoffer. The employer’s offer said that it included “all of Plaintiff’s claims for relief” but made no specific mention of costs or attorney fees. The Seventh Circuit reversed; the Rule 68 offer was silent as to costs and fees, so costs and fees were not included. Offers of judgment under Rule 68 are different from contract offers; plaintiffs who receive Rule 68 offers are “at their peril whether they accept or reject a Rule 68 offer.” Therefore, any ambiguities are resolved against defendants.