House Bill 837- Tort Reform

HB 837, the anti-plaintiff tort reform law being considered by the Legislature, went before the Civil Justice Subcommittee on February 24, 2023. A large number of proponents and opponents spoke during the hearing. The bill was reported upon favorably by the committee with five amendments, the substantive changes being as follows:

  • Amend section 95.11 to change the statute of limitations for actions founded on negligence from four years to two years;
  • Add to section 624.155, Fla. Stat., a new subsection that would provide that no bad faith action involving a failure to settle a liability insurance claim, including any such action brought under the common law, shall lie if the insurer tenders the lesser of the policy limits or the amount demanded by the claimant either: (a) Before a complaint asserting such claim, accompanied by sufficient evidence to support the amount of the claim, is filed, or (b) Within 90 days of service of such complaint upon the insurer;
  • Clarifies that language about a common-law bad faith claim does not create a common-law bad faith claim;
  • Create a new statute that provides that notwithstanding section 768.81(4), Fla. Stat., concerning the applicability of the comparative fault statute, in an action for damages against the owner, lessor, operator, or manager of commercial or real property brought by a person lawfully on the property who was injured by the criminal act of a third party, the trier of fact must consider the fault of all persons who contributed to the injury.

On February 25, 2023, at 11:03 a.m., however, the bill was “laid on the table” under House Rule 7.18(a) that refers to needing a quorum. A “CS”—a committee substitution form—was filed. I an no expert on house rules, but this appears to mean that the bill has been tabled due to a lack of a quorum, which constitutes an unfavorable report. I cannot tell if this was done by the Civil Justice Subcommittee (which had reported it favorably the day before) or by the Judiciary Committee, the other committee scheduled to review the bill, because the “Committee” section is currently blank. The bill appears to be on hold as of 12:41 p.m. on 2/27/23.

Terry P. Roberts
Director of Appellate Practice Fischer Redavid PLLC
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