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Report Indicates Florida Tort Reform Reduced ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts in 2023

Insurance Information Institute | May 31, 2024

A new report shows that the number of “nuclear” verdicts in Florida has steadily declined since tort reforms were signed into law in December 2022 and March 2023,The Center Square reported.
The big picture: Marathon Strategies published its 2024 report on corporate verdicts throughout the U.S., and data shows a 30% rise in juries awarding “enormous sums of money” in legal cases brought against big corporations. However, the Sunshine State is bucking this trend due to the impactful legislative actions.
According to the report, a nuclear verdict awards more than $10 million to the plaintiff. A thermonuclear verdict awards a plaintiff over $100 million and up to $1 billion.
Why it matters: The report underscores the impact of legislative reforms to curb legal system abuse, which had been rampant in Florida for many years.

  • Florida’s drop from second to seventh place for nuclear payouts indicates that tort reform can influence the size of court awards, potentially affecting the risk and financial calculations for corporations operating in these jurisdictions.
  • The trend also suggests a broader shift toward legal environments more favorable to insurers and the business community.

By the numbers:

  • 27% increase in nuclear and thermonuclear verdicts across the U.S. in 2023, with the median settlement averaging around $40 million.
  • $491 million total awarded in Florida in 2023 post-reform, with $316 million awarded in state court verdicts, and $175 million by federal courts.
  • $33.2 billion awarded by Florida juries between 2009 and 2023 across 175 nuclear verdicts, second-highest in the U.S. during this timeframe. Texas ranked first with $45 billion across 207 verdicts.

What they’re saying: “Florida has been considered a judicial hellhole for far too long and we are desperately in need of legal reform that brings us more in line with the rest of the country,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said prior to the Florida Legislature passing a broad tort reform bill impacting all lines of personal and commercial insurance in March 2023.

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