(I do have a lawyer I'm working with in this case, however they are currently on leave for the Christmas holiday season and I am expressly permitted to ask others, even in a public forum, questions like these, as it's a general law question and not specific to my case)

An organization ("The Company") recently broke state and federal laws and I suffered damages accordingly. I contacted them offering to settle without going to court and they made me an initial offer.

Their initial offer includes a clause about them making no admission of guilt. The language in the offer is (paraphrased):

No admission of liability This settlement does not in any way constitute an admission of guilt, liability, or wrongdoing by The Company. Any such liability is expressly denied.

From what I understand, this is to prevent any future claims against The Company - however the same agreement also includes a section where I promise not to sue them for any other reason ever again (I object to this and tell my lawyer that when they return) - so even if they do admit guilt (and I agree to never sue them for any reason ever again) it makes no difference to their bottom-line, right?

I do know that many times when a defendant is a company and they settle with a plaintiff it's done to make the problem go-away because the cost of a settlement would be cheaper than the cost of hiring lawyers and running an investigation to verify the claims - as well as to prevent word getting-out if reputations would be damaged by any public court action, even if they would be acquitted.

But those reasons don't apply in my case - I don't believe The Company gains anything at all by refusing to admit guilt or wrongdoing.

I would gain immense personal satisfaction if The Company would just say in writing "we broke the law" - and hopefully "sorry" too. I find denials quite frustrating and dishonest.

Can I have my lawyer respond with a counter-offer that modifies the settlement agreement to replace the clause with something like "The Company admits to wrongdoing and is sorry." - or anything?

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Can I have my lawyer respond with a counter-offer that modifies the settlement agreement to replace the clause with something like "The Company admits to wrongdoing and is sorry." - or anything?

You can ask. But unless you have a rather strong case and the company very much wants to avoid going to court, quite likely they will refuse. Such an admission is likely to harm their reputation, and might be admissible evidence in other civil or even criminal cases, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances.

You also mention that:

...the same agreement also includes a section where I promise not to sue them for any other reason ever again (I object to this and tell my lawyer that when they return)

Such a provision in a settlement is very common, perhaps more common than not. It is intended to make sure that the settlement covers the entire dispute between you and the Company, that you do not later come up with some aspect that was not covered by the agreement now being negotiated, and file a new suit. The provision should be so worded that it covers only causes of action that arose prior to the date of the agreement; it should not immunize them from being sued for future wrong doing. It could be further limited to causes related to the transaction or issue now under dispute, but the Company is likely to insist that it be fairly broadly worded. If told that you object to the provision, they are likely to say something like "well, what other claims does he have? Let's get them out in the open and settle all of them." which does not seem unreasonable. The Company wants certainty that the whole dispute, in all of its aspects, is closed.

Can I have my lawyer respond with a counter-offer that modifies the settlement agreement to replace the clause with something like "The Company admits to wrongdoing and is sorry." - or anything?

Yes, even if your own lawyer tries to dissuade you in this regard.

A settlement could include both company's admission of wrongdoing and the injured party's agreement to waive actionability for that wrongdoing. But (quoting your inquiry) "the promise not to sue them for any other reason ever again" is the sign of a company's unreasonable lawyer who presumes the other party is stupid.

As to why you

don't believe The Company gains anything at all by refusing to admit guilt or wrongdoing.

I am sure that if you elaborated on the issue, it would be easier to conjecture with more precision the company's motive. Broadly speaking, an evidenced, undisputed, or admitted statement as to having broken the law will always hurt a company's reputation. Furthermore, the company's statement in the sense that it broke state and federal laws might constitute admissible evidence that helps a prosecutor's or General Attorney's (representing The People) case against the company. I speak in terms of "might" because, for instance, Michigan Court Rule 2.313(C)(D)(2) reads:

An admission made by a party under this rule is for the purpose of the pending action only and is not an admission for another purpose, nor may it be used against the party in another proceeding.

Obviously this procedural rule (or its equivalent) does not mean that you have to accommodate the company's fears whatsoever.

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