Cases Pour In Before New Florida Lawsuit Abuse Law Takes Effect

Gov. DeSantis Signed Bill Ending Predatory Practice on March 24
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs predatory lawsuit abuse law
"We are desperately in need of legal reform that brings us more in line with the rest of the country,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said March 24 when he signed the bill into law. (Office of Gov. Ron DeSantis)

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Attorneys filed a flurry of litigation for 80,000 to 100,000 new court cases that could seek damages from trucking companies and other businesses in Florida, a few days before Gov. Ron DeSantis immediately enacted a law to quash the notorious lawsuit abuse.

Florida Trucking Association CEO Alix Miller was instrumental in launching a multifaceted campaign enlisting help from members in alerting state lawmakers about the detrimental impact of long-standing frivolous litigation. DeSantis invited her and other FTA members to attend his signing ceremony March 24 of a 39-page omnibus bill (S/CS/House Bill 837: Civil Remedies) that overhauled Florida’s legal framework to prevent predatory litigation practices.

“Florida has been considered a judicial hellhole for far too long, and we are desperately in need of legal reform that brings us more in line with the rest of the country,” DeSantis said while signing the legislation into law. The governor’s office noted that the new law would stop predatory practices “of trial attorneys that prey on hardworking Floridians.” Among its protections would be ensuring “that Floridians can’t be held liable for damages if the person suing is more at fault.”

Since then, reports have surfaced in Florida about state circuit courts being inundated with tens of thousands of legal actions filed a few days before March 24 after it became apparent the legislation would pass and land on the governor’s desk for his signature.

Alix Miller


Miller has received reports that as many as 80,000 to 100,000 lawsuits were filed in Florida in the five days preceding HB 837 taking effect.

The actual number could be much higher if attorneys filed cases in February in anticipation of tort reform. DeSantis and state legislators announced Feb. 15 that legislation would be coming to “disincentivize frivolous lawsuits” and realign Florida’s insurance market for greater competition.

The state has 20 judicial circuits (both the highest trial courts and lowest appellate courts in Florida) that are authorized by the state Legislature to have jurisdiction over civil disputes involving more than $30,000 in claims. Each circuit court contains its own case reporting system, which makes it difficult to obtain an overall state picture of how many court actions were filed specifically in reaction to the impending tort reform legislation.

The new law includes three major priorities that FTA and its members identified and lobbied to include: transparency of medical damages, modified comparative negligence and changing the statute of limitations from four to two years.

“Filing just days before the law went into effect is a clear indication that attorneys have been banking on the former pure comparative fault statute and four-year statute of limitations in Florida, to trucking’s peril, for years now,” Miller said. “I have heard from members who have received notice of a lawsuit being filed against them, from three years ago, where they are at no fault except for being present [at the scene of an accident].”


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One trucking company, whose name is being kept anonymous due to pending litigation, had two representatives speak to Transport Topics about being among the thousands of businesses to receive a letter from a law firm within days of the March 24 law’s enactment.

The letter was to inform the trucking company that an attorney was representing a personal injury case from an incident a few years ago in which a driver received a police citation after rear-ending the truck.

“I’m sure a lawsuit will be coming. We’ll go back and forth. There will probably be depositions and a lot of correspondence between attorneys and insurance firms,” the trucking company spokesman said. “It will be a burden on the company. We were totally in the right on this. We were in no way at fault in this crash. Our driver was minding his own business, going along obeying all the laws and this guy came along not paying attention and slammed into the back of him.”

He said more states should try to enact tort reform legislation like Florida did and “to put a stop to this, or at least slow it down a little bit because these lawyers, they’re ripping us off, insurance companies and the business.”

Miller and others in Florida’s trucking industry are thankful for the new law because of the protections it provides.

“Attorneys in Florida have been gambling on a rigged and broken judicial system like a casino,” she said. “In the final, gasping breaths, unscrupulous attorneys have shown themselves to be exactly who they really are. But in this case, thanks to leadership the [Florida] House always wins.”

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