Lawsuit Abuse Goes Under the Legislative Microscope
By: Florida Chamber of Commerce
Taking on Florida’s Bottom 5 Legal Climate
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is turning up the pressure on Florida’s bottom five legal climate, joining Governor Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders in taking steps to build on lawsuit abuse reform successes from last session.
Governor DeSantis is committed to taking on powerful trial lawyer special interests, and he’s got the support of key leaders in the Florida Legislature. Already lawmakers have held a series of hearings focused on common sense solutions to further make Florida more competitive. Representative Bob Rommel, House Civil Justice Subcommittee Chair, has held four workshops addressing Florida Chamber-backed lawsuit abuse reform bills.
Accuracy in Damages
HB 9, also known as “Accuracy in Damages,” continued to advance in the House this week despite efforts by the trial bar to add a poison pill amendment. The amendment would have allowed the jury to see if the defense had liability insurance, but was defeated handedly after testimony from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and our partners at the Florida Justice Reform Institute. This bill is now poised to be taken up by the House. Despite the common-sense reforms to allow a jury to see the amount that is usually and customarily accepted for a medical procedure, the bill is stuck in the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, which is not scheduled to meet again.
Lawsuit Lending, or HB 7041, had its last of three committee hearings in the House this week. The bill adds consumer protections and creates regulations around the lawsuit lending industry, an industry that has cropped up in the last decade. These high-interest “loans” tend to force plaintiffs not to act in their best interests, and HB 7041 attempts to curb predatory practices by these lenders.
In a late session surprise, a committee substitute amendment on bad faith reform was filed to an innocuous insurance bill in the House Commerce Committee. PCS for HB 895 was further amended to improve the bad faith language in the original amendment, and changes the civil remedy notice process and attempts to fix third-party bad faith. Florida is one of the few states in the country that allows for third-party bad faith, which costs Florida policyholders an additional $106 per insured vehicle in Florida. Opponents of the measure have requested that additional committee references be added to slow down the progress of the measure.
Asbestos Trust Claims
Asbestos Trust Claims continued to move this week with a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. SB 1582 brings transparency to the trust claim process and ensures that claims move legitimately and more quickly through the judicial process.
Motor Vehicle Dealers
Motor Vehicle Dealers zipped through its second of three committee hearings in the Senate this week. The bill clarifies that the dangerous instrumentality doctrine does not apply to loaner vehicles while a car is being serviced by a motor vehicle dealer. This exemption already applies to vehicle leases. Both the House and Senate bill have one committee stop remaining.
The Florida Chamber will continue the fight to improve Florida’s bottom-five legal climate. Now is the time to contact your lawmaker and ask for meaningful lawsuit abuse reform this session.
WHAT LEGAL CLIMATE ISSUES ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Lawsuit abuse impacts all Floridians. From job creators to the families that pay more than $4,400 each year in a lawsuit abuse ‘tax.’ Share which legal climate issues impact you the most.