Last week, there were major public policy issues debated in the legislature, including expansion of school vouchers and tort reform. Regarding the tort reform bill, House Judiciary Chair Tommy Gregory and Representative Tom Fabricio led the HB 837 debate on the House floor this past Friday. The 40-page bill begged many questions among the hundreds of speakers in committee and in the Capitol. After more than 20 hours of testimony and debate, here are questions to ponder:
- Should a business owner always be viewed at fault for an accident or crime that occurs in their establishment when they have no control over a shooter or other criminal act?
- Should insurance companies be sued for bad faith when they in good faith attempted to negotiate with the insured or miss the bad faith notice because it was mailed to an incorrect address?
- Should a shooter, murderer, robber of other assailant be included when evidence is presented to a civil jury?
- Do you believe the only reason insurance companies pay claims is the threat of being sued for bad faith?
During last week’s hearings, there were many motorcycle riders that testified the tort reform bill would prevent them from receiving insurance proceeds. These speakers did not understand that the provisions in the bill did not remove their right to benefits, even when they were helmetless at the time of a crash.
Chair Gregory said that this bill ensures that we trust juries versus giving power to corporations. He went on to say that when we balance civil remedies, we will be able to cut the $5,000 tort tax for all Florida families by giving juries the power to hear the transparent evidence so they can make the right decision, leading to the right result. He closed his remarks with the three themes of the bill:
First, those in the courtroom pay their own attorney’s fees. “Regulation through litigation doesn’t work and gets abused,” said Gregory. He said he kept listening to the debate about the bad insurance companies but when he talked to Florida regulators, 10% of complaints were about insurance companies and 90% of complaints were about frivolous lawsuits and consumer fraud.
Second, he believes the person responsible for the harm should pay. He said we have a system that encourages and allows attorneys to seek out those with the deepest pockets. Attorneys need to go after those that caused the harm.
Third, he said we must trust the juries that our entire judicial system is based on and that is the subject of the 7th amendment to our constitution.
What do you think? Would love to hear from you about this debate and look forward to keeping you abreast of legislative happenings. Speaking of which…
If you are in Tallahassee tomorrow night (Tuesday the 21st), please join us for the annual Red Dog-Blue Dog 8th Annual Celebrity Bartender Benefit. The dogs are the winners here because proceeds go to the Tallahassee Animal Shelter Foundation, Leon County Humane Society, and Last Hope Rescue. Legislators will work in two teams (Red & Blue!) to compete for the most tips. The Red Team bartenders are Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, Rep. Tom Leek, Rep. Jim Mooney, Sen. Alexis Calatayud, and Sen. Jennifer Bradley. The Blue Team bartenders are Rep. Kristen Arrington, Rep. Dan Daley, Sen. Lauren Book, Sen. Tracie Davis, and Sen. Jason Pizzo.
The benefit will be held from 6-9pm tomorrow at Township Restaurant & Bar, 619 S. Woodward Avenue, in Tallahassee, about 7 blocks south of the Capitol in the FSU Collegetown district. Lisa Miller & Associates is proud to be the presenting sponsor. Be there or be in the dog house!
Please keep reading for what transpired last week and a look ahead at what’s happening this week!