Navigating Florida's Latest Tort Reform: HB 837 / SB 238 Explained
- Creates a “strong presumption that a lodestar fee is sufficient and reasonable.” Presumption can only be overcome “in rate and exceptional circumstances” - Helps eliminates multipliers.
- Creates new fee statute where fees only awarded in declaratory judgment action for “total coverage denial.” Does not apply to AOBs or first party property cases.
- Changes statute of limitations for negligence from four to two years.
- Extends statute of limitations for actions (Servicemen’s Civil Relief Act) involving servicemembers when they are called into active duty where they cannot appear.
- Creates 90-day safe harbor for third party bad faith action.
- Codifies that mere negligence is not bad faith and that a claimant has a duty to act in good faith in furnishing information, making demands, and attempting to settle.
- Allows an insurer to interplead policy limits or engage in arbitration in multi-claimant claims. If the carrier does so within 90 days, the carrier is immune from bad faith actions.
- PFS statute applies to any civil action involving an insurance contract. Allows for PFSs in declaratory judgment actions.
- Transparency in Damages.
- In negligent security cases, trier of fact must consider the fault of the criminal actor (all parties who contributed to injury).
- In negligent security cases creates presumption of no liability when property owner puts into place certain security measures.
- Changes Florida from pure comparative to modified comparative. A Plaintiff who is over 50% at fault cannot recover.
- Repeals one-way attorney fees under Sections 626.9373 and 627.428, Florida Statutes.
- Owners and contractors can sue surety for bonds and recover fees.
- Deletes references in UM statute to Section 627.428.
About Kansas R. Gooden
Kansas Gooden is Board Certified in Appellate Practice by The Florida Bar and is AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. She serves as the firm’s Appellate Practice Group Leader. Kansas is an expert in handling all types of civil appellate proceedings, including extraordinary writs and plenary appeals, in state and federal courts.
Ms. Gooden is active in the Florida Bar’s Appellate Section. Over the past decade, she has served on the Executive Council and has chaired the CLE Committee. As chair, Ms. Gooden is responsible for creating and organizing the CLE programing for the section.
Ms. Gooden is on the board of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association as the President and serves as the chair of the organization’s Amicus Committee. On behalf of the organization, she authors and co-authors amicus briefs in important cases impacting tort, litigation, and insurance issues. She also serves on the board of directors of the Third District Court of Appeal Historical Society.
Ms. Gooden is a frequent speaker on appellate topics, including preservation of error, for both attorneys and adjusters. She is licensed in Florida (2008).