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The often-overlooked offer of judgment rule – Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 68 – may be a valuable tool for defendants if carefully employed. An offer of judgment’s primary benefit is its obvious risk-shifting effect. Rule 68 forces plaintiffs, particularly small plaintiffs, to proceed cautiously in the face of mounting costs and uncertainty. FRCP 68 provides, in pertinent part, that:

[a]t any time more than 10 days before the trial begins, a party defending against a claim may serve upon the adverse party an offer to allow judgment to be taken against the defending party for the money or property or to the effect specified in the offer, with costs then accrued … An offer not accepted shall be deemed withdrawn and evidence thereof is not admissible except in a proceeding to determine costs. If the judgment finally obtained by the offeree is not more favorable than the offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the making of the offer.

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