Florida Chamber Urges Senate Judiciary Committee to Oppose SB 1168

 

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To: Senate Judiciary Committee

The Florida Chamber of Commerce urges you to oppose SB 1168, related to assignment of benefits. This bill, proposed by Senator Greg Steube, will be heard Tuesday, February 6, 2018 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Florida has among the highest property insurance rates in the country. This rate problem is driven, in part, by an issue known as assignment of benefits, which allows businesses to sue other businesses under their homeowner’s insurance policy. The result has been overinflated claims, increased litigation, and frustrated consumers who unknowingly signed their insurance policy over to a third party.

Unfortunately, this bill doesn’t fix the AOB problem, and may even result in a step backward. SB 1168 fails to comprehensively address attorney fees, which incentivize the use of AOB forms and increase litigation. SB 1168 also prohibits managed repair programs, which are used by some insurers to help address rising claims costs. Finally, and most importantly, the bill fails to fully protect consumers from unscrupulous contractors that are taking advantage of consumers through the misuse of AOBs.

This bill is opposed by Florida’s business community because it:

  • Fails to comprehensively address attorney fees, which should be available to the homeowner but not to unscrupulous contractors in a business to business lawsuit;
  • Strengthens the use of AOBs and fails to protect homeowners from their misuse; and
  • Will not reduce rates, which are increasing due to the exponential increase in AOB lawsuits. Over the last ten years, the number of AOB lawsuits have risen from 405 to 28,183.The Florida Chamber urges you to oppose SB 1168, and will consider votes on this legislation, and any substantive amendments to it in committee or on the floor, in our annual How They Voted report card. Because of the importance of this issue to employers across the state, our Board of Directors has determined that this bill, and any substantive amendments to it in committee or on the floor, will be counted twice on our legislative report card. The grade that you earn will be based on your voting record on the issues, such as this one. We will make every effort to notify you prior to a vote that may be included in our annual legislative report card. If you have any questions about this or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

Frank C. Walker, III
Vice President of Government Affairs

Florida Chamber Urges Senate Committee to Oppose SB 1168

 

Download Letter     Insurance Reform     Legal Reform

 

 

To: Senate Community Affairs Committee

The Florida Chamber of Commerce urges you to oppose SB 1168, related to assignment of benefits. This bill, proposed by Senator Greg Steube, will be heard today, January 16, 2018 in the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

Florida has among the highest property insurance rates in the country. This rate problem is driven, in part, by an issue known as assignment of benefits, which allows businesses to sue other businesses under their homeowner’s insurance policy. The result has been overinflated claims, increased litigation, and frustrated consumers who unknowingly signed their insurance policy over to a third party.

Unfortunately, this bill doesn’t fix the AOB problem, and may even result in a step backward. SB 1168 fails to comprehensively address attorney fees, which incentivize the use of AOB forms and increase litigation. “Offer of settlement” is a problematic process that has often been further challenged in the court system. SB 1168 also contains a provision where attorney fees would not be allowed to be included in rates, which could create solvency concerns over time. Finally, and most importantly, the bill fails to fully protect consumers from unscrupulous contractors that are taking advantage of consumers through misuse of AOBs.

This bill is opposed by Florida’s business community because it:  Fails to comprehensively address attorney fees, which should be available to the homeowner but not to unscrupulous contractors in a business to business lawsuit;  Strengthens the use of AOBs and fails to protect homeowners from their misuse; and  Will not reduce rates, which are increasing due to the exponential increase in AOB lawsuits. Over the last ten years, the number of AOB lawsuits have risen from 405 to 28,183.

The Florida Chamber urges you to oppose SB 1168, and will consider votes on this legislation, and any substantive amendments to it in committee or on the floor, in our annual How They Voted report card. Because of the importance of this issue to employers across the state, our Board of Directors has determined that this bill, and any substantive amendments to it in committee or on the floor, will be counted twice on our legislative report card. The grade that you earn will be based on your voting record on the issues, such as this one. We will make every effort to notify you prior to a vote that may be included in our annual legislative report card. If you have any questions about this or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

Frank C. Walker, III
Vice President of Government Affairs

Anti-Business Prejudgment Interest Bill Amended, Still Heading to Senate Floor

On March 29, the Florida Senate Rules Committee approved SB 334, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) by a 10-1 margin. As amended, the anti-business, trial lawyer-backed “prejudgment interest” bill allows interest to be charged on economic damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made, as is the current law.

The committee adopted an amendment by Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) and Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), which eliminated language that would have allowed prejudgment interest to be charged for attorney fees and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Despite the amendment’s efforts to more narrowly apply prejudgment interest, the Florida Chamber remains opposed to SB 334. Prejudgment interest will further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits against Floridians and force businesses into a “sue-and-settle” position. It also removes existing discretion available to judges and instead mandates prejudgment interest be awarded.

Thank Sen. Latvala

Click here to thank Sen. Jack Latvala, the only Senator to support Florida’s business community by voting AGAINST SB 334 at its most recent committee vote.

Why is “Prejudgment Interest Bad for Businesses?

Watch the video below, and then share it with other business leaders to warn them about the latest sue-and-settle scheme brewing in Tallahassee.

 

What’s Next?

The Senate’s version of the bill, SB 334, will move to a vote on the Senate Floor. The House’s version of the bill, HB 469, has one more committee stop before potentially moving to a vote on the House Floor.

Act Now – Urge Lawmakers to Oppose Prejudgment Interest Bill(s)

This Week: One Hearing in the House, One Hearing in the Senate

The Florida Legislature is seriously considering passing “Prejudgment Interest” during the 2017 Florida Legislative Session.

February 21 at 3:30 p.m., the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee will take up SB 334, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), related to “Prejudgment Interest.”

On February 23, at 9 a.m., the Florida House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee will take up HB 469, sponsored by Rep. Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa).

Take action now by clicking BOTH links below to send one email to the Senate Judiciary Committee and one email to the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee.

  • Click here to urge Representatives on the House Civil Justice and Claims Subcommittee to VOTE NO on HB 469.
  • Click here to urge Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee to VOTE NO on SB 334.

“Prejudgment Interest” allows interest to be charged on damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made, as is the current law. Delays in the legal system, which might not be due to the defendant, will only further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits against Floridians and businesses.

Did you know that Florida has one of the worst legal climates in the country (ranked 44th of the 50 states)? Florida’s legal climate costs households $3400 in a “lawsuit abuse tax” thanks to the amount and cost of litigation.

Job creators look at many factors when deciding to move to or expand their business and a bottom-10 legal climate only deters economic growth. We should be working to improve our legal climate.

Oppose SB 334 Today and Stop Personal Injury Trial Lawyers From Making Florida a More Expensive Place to Live


Did you know that Florida has one of the worst legal climates in the country (ranked 44th of the 50 states)? Florida’s legal climate costs households $3400 in a “lawsuit abuse tax” thanks to the amount and cost of litigation.

Job creators look at many factors when deciding to move to or expand their business and a bottom-10 legal climate only deters economic growth. We should be working to improve our legal climate. However, on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee might take a step in the opposite direction. The Judiciary Committee will take up SB 334, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), related to “Prejudgment Interest.”

SB 334 allows interest to be charged on damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made, as is the current law. Delays in the legal system, which might not be due to the defendant, will only further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits against Floridians and businesses. Attorney fees will also be subject to interest, only further increasing the incentive to delay cases. The result is that more companies will be forced to “settle” lawsuits to avoid increased legal costs as a result of additional interest in a drawn out legal system.

Contact Senators on the Judiciary Committee and tell them Florida’s legal climate is bad enough without another job-killing, trial lawyer-backed bill.

Trial Lawyer Bill Could Cost Your Business Extra Money

A bill filed today could increase the cost of doing business in Florida for companies who are sued by trial lawyers just looking for another quick payday.

Prejudgment interest is the interest accrued as part of a lawsuit from the date of the claim to the time the final judgement is given.

HB 469, filed by Shawn Harrison (R-Tampa) and SB 334, filed by Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota), would make it so that interest would be accrued not following the date of judgment but upon the time the injury began. This is especially problematic if delays in court were to occur, all the while collecting interest, and could force companies into settling more court cases to avoid paying additional interest.

Florida already has a bottom-10 legal climate, and bills like prejudgment interest, the trial lawyers’ top priority for the 2017 legislative session, will only increase the costs of Florida’s litigious legal climate and force job creators into a worsening cycle of “sue and settle”.

The Florida Chamber will keep you informed about the progress of this bill. Contact us today to learn how you can get involved by emailing me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

What Can You Do?

These bills are currently both waiting to be assigned to their committees of reference. But you can help be part of the solution today by joining the discussion at the Florida Chamber’s 2017 Capitol Days, held March 21 to 23 in Tallahassee.