TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner to announce the most comprehensive reforms in decades to decrease frivolous lawsuits and prevent predatory practices of trial attorneys that prey on hardworking Floridians, including truckers and small businesses. These measures include eliminating one-way attorney fees and fee multipliers for all lines of insurance, modernizing Florida’s “bad faith” law, and protecting small businesses from paying exorbitant damages.
“For decades, Florida has been considered a judicial hellhole due to excessive litigation and a legal system that benefitted the lawyers more than people who are injured,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are now working on legal reform that is more in line with the rest of the country and that will bring more businesses and jobs to Florida.”
“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, we have taken many steps to help keep Florida affordable for growing families and seniors. Litigation drives up the basic costs of goods and services for everyone across all areas of industry and commerce. When a horrible accident or incident occurs and people suffer a loss, they should be compensated quickly and fairly,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. “The vast majority of attorneys work very hard to provide sound legal representation for Floridians in these difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, there are a few bad actors who are in the business to draw out civil cases as long as possible, collecting more and more fees from insurance companies, and that has to stop. I know we can find the right balance and protect the rights of Floridians who suffer a loss, while at the same time safeguarding everyone else against the hidden costs of prolonged litigation.”
“For too long, Florida families have shouldered the hidden cost of lawsuit abuse. Florida’s litigation environment has cost the state jobs and driven up the cost of goods and services,” said House Speaker Paul Renner. “According to the American Tort Reform Foundation ‘Judicial Hellhole’ report, lawsuit abuse costs Florida households more than $5000, and costs the state more than 173,000 jobs annually. The Florida Legislature will work with Governor DeSantis to bring balance to the system, protect families and consumers, and reduce litigation costs.”
This proposal will eliminate one-way attorney fees for all lines of insurance and attorney fee multipliers to permanently disincentivize frivolous lawsuits and realign Florida’s insurance market to promote more competition. Currently, as seen throughout Florida, activist attorneys abuse Florida’s one-way attorney fee statute to prey on vulnerable Floridians to prolong litigation to increase their profit margins. For property insurance, one-way attorney’s fees and attorney fee multipliers were addressed during the Special Session held in May 2022.
Under this proposed legislation, Florida’s “bad faith” law would be modernized to balance the scales between plaintiff attorneys and insurance companies to incentivize good faith between both parties and promote the best interest of the consumer. This provision would also maintain consumer-focused protections to ensure that true bad actors are held accountable.
Additionally, this proposal would institute reforms to protect small businesses from being subjected to paying exorbitant damages when they are not primarily at fault. Under current law, fraudsters and con artists prey on small businesses by filing lawsuits when injured, even if they are up to 99% at fault.
This proposal will also set standards for awarding medical damages to prevent fraudulent practices that currently plague Florida’s litigation environment. These include requiring medical records, procedure codes, and information regarding health insurance reimbursement to ensure accurate settlements are reached between parties.