FJA Capital News:
2012 Session Wrap-Up

Dear FJA Members and Friends:

Well, we are all recovering from another late Friday night ending to another legislative session and I wanted to give you a short update on how it all ended. All in all, given the political odds stacked against us following the last election, we had a remarkable session.

Here are the highlights:

  • We defeated every medical malpractice proposal. Arbitration, sovereign immunity for ER doctors, raising the standard to clear and convincing in supplemental diagnostic cases and proposals to allow ex-parte communications between treating physicians without plaintiff counsel present all were defeated.
  • Bad Faith was preserved, despite being the #1 priority of the business community.
  • Forcing Florida courts to adopt the Daubert standard of evidence, the #2 priority of the business community, was defeated.
  • Attorney fee caps in PIP cases were defeated.
  • We also had a number of key wins in the arena of property insurance, in this case, defeating priorities of Governor Scott.
  • And we defeated multiple efforts to extend immunity to all kinds of other practices/properties.

All in all, it was a very bad session for the tort reform crowd.

The one defeat we suffered in the waning moments of session was the issue of multipliers in PIP cases. Despite having beaten back efforts to eliminate multipliers just a few days earlier, a frantic arm-twisting lobbying effort by Governor Scott and virtually the entire insurance industry flipped two votes on us and we lost on that issue by a vote of 21-19.  Click here for a copy of the PIP bill.

It is important to remember that on virtually all of these issues, we are extremely out-gunned. The other side has deeper pockets and armies of lobbyists -- and over the last two years, has had super majorities in the legislature. But we had work ethic and the facts on our side and proud doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about the members who came here to lobby, the staff and lobbyists of this organization, and everyone who contributed to an amazing effort these last few months.

Now we start a new process. On Wednesday, the legislature comes back to re-draw the State Senate maps and then we begin raising money in earnest and going out to help our friends, take out our enemies and help elect candidates who believe that the courthouse doors should be open to all, even those who don't have the money to hire their own army of lawyers.

It will be a big cycle. There are no fewer than a dozen important State Senate seats and roughly 30 open State House seats. Redistricting reform will also create new challenges, places where we may have friends running for re-election in the same districts as our enemies.

As we have frequently said at board meetings, we believe the long term looks brighter every day, but it is the short term that we must survive. We will need everyone to pitch in this summer and fall and again over the next two sessions to help fight for the basic rights of everyday Floridians.

Thank you again to all who came to Tallahassee and thank you to everyone for your continued support of the FJA.


Debra Henley
Executive Director