Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the first bill that was passed through this year's legislative session on Friday, according to a release from the Office of the Governor.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 837 into law Friday
- The measure is aimed at reforming the personal injury legal system in the state of Florida
- A House panel's analysis of the law said medical and insurance costs could be lowered indirectly as a result of the bill
The new law was formerly called HB 837, internally known as the Civil Remedies bill, which is written to "decrease frivolous lawsuits and prevent predatory practices of trial attorneys that prey on hardworking Floridians," according to the governor.
"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 at the bill signing. "I am proud to sign this legislation to protect Floridians, safeguard our economy and attract more investment in our state."
The Consumer Protection Coalition thanked DeSantis for signing the measure into law, saying that he "fiercely advocated" for consumers and local businesses in the state of Florida.
"Florida has seen an explosion of litigation, driven by a small number of plaintiff lawyers, that has increased the cost of goods and services purchased by consumers and added tremendous uncertainty for local businesses," said Carolyn Johnson, vice president of government affairs at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and a spokesperson for the Consumer Protection Coalition. "Governor DeSantis recognizes this annual ‘tort tax’ of over $5,000 for every Florida family is both wrong and unsustainable. The CPC thanks Governor DeSantis and Florida’s legislative leaders for passing historic lawsuit abuse reform and putting consumers and local businesses first."
Among the provisions provided for in the law are proposals that will abolish one-way attorney fees, modernize "bad faith" laws, halt inflated jury awards in injury cases and eliminate damages if a person is considered to be at majority fault in the cause of their injury.
The law also adopts the federal standard of eliminating attorney’s fee multipliers and provides that one-way attorney fee provisions can only be applied in limited situations. Proponents of the bill say it disincentivizes frivolous lawsuits and prolonged litigation to increase the profit margins of activist attorneys abusing the system.
In an analysis of the law provided by the House Judiciary Committee, the authors assert that in addition to lowering potential tort costs, an indirect benefit of the law could be lower insurance and medical costs. It concedes, though, that it could lower the recovery of plaintiffs in certain cases.