An insurance lobbying organization is calling a new legislative proposal from a Lakewood Ranch state representative a “monumental” attempt to “tackle lawsuit abuse” in the industry.
The bill, HB 837, was filed in the Florida House on Feb. 15 by House Judiciary Chair Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, and Tom Fabricrio, R-Miami Lakes. The proposed bill also comes a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis; Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples; and House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, announced they will tackle challenges in the litigation environment this legislative session.
“This tort reform package is the most consequential in decades,” Personal Insurance Federation of Florida President and CEO Michael Carlson says in a statement. “It addresses long-standing weaknesses in Florida’s judicial system and balances the interests of plaintiffs and defendants. This shows a bold and unified effort between our state’s branches of government to create a fairer system that will protect consumers and drive out abusive litigation filed by attorneys only for profit.”
During a special session on property insurance that began Dec. 12, legislators approved a reform bill that did away with one-way attorney fees. That is what many in the insurance industry had cited as the No. 1 issue to address.
The Federation says while that reform “was historic, following earlier, more modest attempts at reform, it is not an overnight solution to a crisis that has developed over the last decade. HB 837 expands on recent reforms, eliminating one-way attorney fees and fee multipliers for all lines of insurance. It addresses longstanding problems in the areas of third-party bad faith claims and the presentation of evidence of medical damages in negligence actions, and it changes Florida’s shared fault standard to make negligent claimants responsible for their damages.”
“Digging Florida out of what some have called a ‘judicial hellhole’ takes the right tools and the right amount of time,” Carlson adds in the release. “State leaders have had it with the lawsuit abuse and are out to stop it where it still exists. This bill will reset our judicial climate, reduce lawsuit and insurance claims costs, and ultimately benefit consumers and business owners.”
The bill and its progress is available at MyFloridaHouse.gov.