Florida Chamber of Commerce Applauds Florida Supreme Court For Adopting Higher Expert Witness Standards

Ends Six-Year Court Battle

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 23, 2019)— The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Supreme Court for today issuing an opinion adopting Florida’s expert witness standards to the higher Daubert standard, and eliminating junk science from Florida’s court. This is a significant move that ends a six-year old battle in which the previous court’s attempts to undermine the Florida Legislature by keeping in place the weaker Frye standard in place.

“This is an important step forward in improving Florida’s legal climate, and providing predictability in the courtroom, stability for job creators, and greater economic prosperity for Floridians,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

With today’s action, Florida will no longer be an outlier since our state courts will now join the U.S. Supreme Court, all federal courts and most states in using the Daubert standard. Florida courts will now use the same fair and simple standard that implements a multi-faceted test to decide on the admissibility of expert evidence.

The Florida Chamber-backed Daubert standard, was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2013. However, former activist Supreme Court justices refused to adopt the Daubert standard into the Florida Evidence Code.

Due to the mandatory retirement of three justices, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed three new justices. Today’s opinion marks a significant departure from the previous court and signals a court that may help end Florida’s reign as a “judicial hellhole.”

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

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Florida Supreme Court Rejects New Expert Witness Standards

 

On February 16, the Florida Supreme Court rejected the Florida Legislature’s efforts to improve the state’s expert witness standards. The Court rejected the adoption of the Daubert Standard and new evidence standards in medical malpractice cases. The Florida Chamber supported both pieces of legislation to elevate expert witness standards.

In 2013, the Legislature  passed HB 7015 – filed by Representative  Metz – which would have rejected the Frye standard in favor of Daubert. This evidence standard is used in federal court and in 36 other states, and would have only allowed expert testimony if it met a three-pronged test. Without such a test in place, as has been done by rejecting the new expert witness standards, the Supreme Court has made it easier for trial lawyers to enter junk science into court proceedings, and thereby further obfuscate the truth on important issues.

The Supreme Court rejected the new standard due to submitted comments on the constitutionality of the new standard. Justice Polston, in his dissent, wrote, “Has the Entire federal court system for the last 23 years as well as 36 states denied parties’ rights to a jury trial and access to courts?… Of course not.”

The Florida Legislature in 2013 also adopted SB 1792, which relates to medical negligence actions. A provision of this legislation would have required that medical expert witnesses be of the same specialty, rather than of the same or similar specialty. The Florida Supreme Court rejected this standard also on the grounds of constitutionality, under access to courts.

What’s Next?

Frustrated by Florida’s bottom-ten legal climate? Next week, the trial lawyers are trying to further deteriorate Florida’s legal climate by passing prejudgment interest. Learn more about where the Florida Chamber stands on legal reform, and contact your legislators by clicking here.