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Florida Chamber Supports ‘Game-Changing’ Lawsuit Abuse Reform

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner joined Judiciary Committee Chair Tommy Gregory and Representative Tom Fabricio to celebrate the passage of House Bill 837, a lawsuit abuse reform package, through the bill’s first committee stop. HB 837 will reform Florida’s lopsided legal environment and provide relief to Florida families and businesses.

Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson stood with Speaker Renner and other key partners after passage of HB 837 out of the Civil Justice Subcommittee. The final committee stop for the bill is in the Judiciary Committee before the measure heads to the House floor.

HB 837 / Tort reform legislation brings these changes to Florida’s legal system:

Significantly limits fee multiplier incentives for lawyers to collect higher fees when they sue.
Eliminates the ability of attorneys to claim bad faith on part of insurance companies with vague and meritless claims.

Right-sizes verdicts by allowing a fairer assessment of fault in negligence cases.

Provides juries with more detail and transparency in their decision-making in medical cases.

Reduces frivolous lawsuits or threats of litigation by eliminating “one-way attorney fees” that incentivize fraudulent or inflated claims.

Streamlines the civil litigation process by reducing the statute of limitations from four years to two years.

Requires a jury to consider the fault of an intentional wrongdoer in certain negligence cases.

lawsuit abuse reform - Florida Speaker Paul Renner“Everything from gas to groceries to auto and home insurance is more expensive because a few bad actors are taking advantage of Florida’s current tort laws,” said Speaker Renner, a Palm Coast Republican. “Litigation mills create an excessive tort tax which inflates costs on everything. These costs are passed onto Florida’s hardworking families and businesses. Our legal system needs to be balanced, allow good claims to move forward, and hold anyone engaging in real misconduct accountable. I commend Chairman Gregory and Rep. Fabricio for bringing HB 837 forward.”

According to the Chamber, Florida’s bottom-five legal climate stifles the state’s competitiveness in an otherwise business-friendly environment and negatively impacts Floridians, who on average are paying $5,065 per family, through increased costs on everything from groceries to gas to insurance costs.

“As a Florida employer, our company sees many frivolous lawsuits. This restricts our ability to hire additional team members, to build additional stores and to reinvest back into the local communities we serve. This bill, which will limit frivolous litigation, is good for Florida,” said Charles E. Bailes III, Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Chairman and CEO of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits.

The Chamber says the “game-changing reform package” will go a long way in addressing the lawsuit abuse plaguing Florida families and local businesses.

“The Florida Chamber has been unifying the business community and fighting for meaningful lawsuit abuse reform for well over a decade. We want to thank those who voted today to put consumers and local businesses over billboard trial lawyers who advertise on TV,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of The Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Florida’s lawsuit abuse spending tops every other state in the nation and accounts for 3.6 percent of Florida’s $1.4 trillion economy, with no other state surpassing 3 percent of their state GDP. This means over $50 billion is spent on litigation in Florida every year – more than we spend on infrastructure or even education.”

“I’m glad to see our Members coming together to tackle what may be one of our state’s most transformational legal reforms,” said Chair Gregory, a Lakewood Ranch Republican. “Our current legal system creates a massive transfer of wealth from Floridians to attorneys and contributes to the affordability crisis Floridians are needlessly facing. We have a historic opportunity to bring balance to the system and stop these bad actors from taking advantage of Florida families and businesses.”

“It’s unacceptable for the free state of Florida to be considered a judicial hellhole,” said Rep. Fabricio, a Miami Lakes Republican. “The system should ensure that anyone who has suffered a loss be compensated quickly and fairly, but the hidden cost of lawsuit abuse is making life for Florida families and businesses more difficult. While attorneys have a responsibility to passionately represent their clients, some have abused the system for purely financial gain. HB 837 will bring balance to the system and protect the legal rights of Floridians to access the courts while disincentivizing and reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits.”

View HB 837 here.

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