Law experts have conflicting thoughts on new Florida tort reform

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William Large (speaking), Jennifer Feld, and Steve Barnes speak in Tampa // Credit: Eye Imagined Photography/DeFalco Media

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In March, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 837, a law overhauling Florida’s litigation landscape. A panel of law experts spoke to a civic group in Tampa about the law.

The law is referred to as tort reform, and makes a variety of changes. But the biggest one is regarding cases of negligence.

Previously, a plaintiff was entitled to recover a percentage of damages proportionate to the degree of fault of the defendant.

Under this new law, if a plaintiff is more negligent than the defendant, the plaintiff cannot recover.

Steve Barnes is President of Tampa Bay Trial Lawyers Association.

“Is tort reform harmful to Florida and my families? One hundred percent it is. I was born and raised here, I work here, I represent folks like you every single day. And if I thought for one moment what happened in March of this year was good for you, good for my two girls, good for my three boys? I’d be sitting in his seat instead of mine.”

And by his seat, he means William Large with The Florida Justice Reform Institute.

“This creates a vibrant insurance market in Florida, a vibrant business market in Florida, protects the rights of consumers in Florida, and, unequivocally, that’s the role of the legislature and that’s why they passed this law.”

The law went into effect July 1st.

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