• Kirk Hartley

Florida and Tort Law: Defendants Seem to Keep Losing

Florida has been an increasingly kind venue and profitable place for plaintiff lawyers. Case law developments during 2016 are reviewed in a July 25, 2016 article in LAW360.  The introduction follows, and the full article is well worth reading.

Law360, Miami (July 25, 2016, 4:51 PM ET) — The Florida Supreme Court gave workers and smokers a boost in the first half of 2016 as it scuttled parts of the state’s workers’ compensation law and made it easier for Engle progeny plaintiffs to seek punitive damages against tobacco companies, among other recent decisions that have made waves. The two pairs of decisions on workers’ compensation and tobacco litigation were among several issued by Florida appeals courts so far this year that should reverberate in litigation throughout the state.

On the other hand, the Florida legislature adopted Daubert by statute in 2013. Some in the defense camp have lauded that result, as described in a July 15, 2016 article in LAW360.  Others, on the plaintiff side disagree, as described in a July 25, 2016 article in LAW360. More change on Daubert could happen later in 2016 or next year. The July 15 article provides a cogent explanation, which also received comment in the July 25 article. The July 15 article explains the bottom line as follows:

“The [Daubert legislation and rulings]may all end up being in vain. There are serious efforts to have Daubert rejected. By way of background, the Florida Supreme Court has the ultimate authority in adopting a given evidentiary standard as a matter of Florida law. The Supreme Court has not yet spoken on or addressed this issue. Hence, the present state of affairs and uncertainty about which expert standard will govern in Florida. The Florida Bar’s Code of Rules and Evidence Committee submitted a Three Year Cycle Report proposing that Sections 90.702 and 90.704 not be adopted as Rules of Evidence to the extent they are deemed procedural. The Florida Board of Governors approved the report by a wide margin of a vote. On Feb. 1, 2016, the Florida Board of Governors submitted the report to the Florida Supreme Court, recommending that the Daubert amendments be rejected. The Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for and against Daubert on Sept. 1, 2016.”

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