Florida House Bill 837 is a bill that aims to reform the civil litigation system in Florida by changing how attorney fees, damages, evidence, and liability are handled in civil cases. The bill is supported by Republican lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis, who claim that it will reduce lawsuit abuse and lower insurance costs. The bill is opposed by some Democrats, trial lawyers, consumer advocates, and crime victims who argue that it will limit access to justice and favor insurance companies over injured people.
The bill has several provisions that would affect civil lawsuits in Florida. Some of them are:
- Creating a rebuttable presumption that the lodestar fee (the number of hours reasonably spent on a case multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate) is sufficient and reasonable for attorney fees in most civil actions.
- Eliminating one-way attorney fees and fee multipliers for all lines of insurance.
- Creating an exception to the lawyer-client evidentiary privilege relating to lawyer’s fees and expenses.
- Requiring juries to consider any payments made by collateral sources (such as insurance or government benefits) when awarding damages.
- Adopting a pure comparative fault system where plaintiffs can only recover damages proportional to their degree of fault (for example, if a plaintiff is 50% at fault for an accident, they cannot recover any damages)
- Limiting punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
The bill was filed on February 15th, 2023, by Representative Tommy Gregory (R-Sarasota) and has been referred to several committees for review. It has not yet been voted on by either chamber of the Florida Legislature.
If you want to learn more about Florida House Bill 837, you can visit these links: