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Florida Supreme Court Delivers “Tort Reformers” a Major Victory


One of the most contentious wedge issues is “tort reform”. It’s something you’ll hear a lot about, but frankly, are unlikely to understand. This is because the argument for tort reform is muddled in political vitriol and counterintuitive political stances.

Essentially, a common-law rule has always allowed those who were injured by someone else’s malice or negligence to file a lawsuit against them to recover damages. This will never change. However, protectionists believe that excessive litigation saps resources from businesses that can be used to grow the business or hire employees. In other words, they think that money is wasted by paying out personal injury judgments. They’re not wrong. That money is usually either taken directly from the company’s coffers or paid for by an insurance policy which will go up once the judgment is paid. Nonetheless, injury victims have a right to remuneration when someone else is responsible for their injuries. So, where’s the balance?

Well, the balance is established by every state. Here in Florida, one of the most polarized states, we see legal standards in tort cases shift back and forth, caught in the tug-of-war of party politics.

The “Holy Grail” of Tort Reform 

What is the “Holy Grail” of tort reform? Well, if you ask some folks, a recent ruling by the Florida Supreme Court qualifies for that comparison. The recent ruling makes it easier for lower-court judges to make summary judgments on lawsuits and brings Florida’s own laws closer to the federal standard. This means that fewer cases will appear before juries where both parties (but most importantly businesses being sued) face a great deal of unpredictability.

The goal, proponents of the ruling say, is to prevent “frivolous” lawsuits from costing businesses more money than they should. In the past, the State of Florida has been very cautious when it comes to issuing summary judgments and dismissing cases. The new standard, they believe, will weed out a lot of the cases that have no merit.

Surviving Summary Judgment 

Any lawsuit that has merit is not in jeopardy of not surviving summary judgment. However, the key legal question as to whether this is appropriate involves the role of the judge in the case. Generally speaking, the two parties in a claim have different ideas about what happened. A trial court will allow the case to move forward when there is a dispute concerning material facts. The jury’s role is to decide which facts are true. The new ruling means that judges will now have a greater role in determining whether or not a case should move forward. Not only are judges determining whether facts are in dispute, but they are also interpreting the quality of those facts and their merit in regards to the claims. Detractors say this decision is best left with a jury.

Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney 

If you’ve been injured by the negligence or malice of another party, the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Matassini Law Firm will file a lawsuit on your behalf and recover a fair settlement that compensates you for all your injuries. Call today to learn more about how we can help.



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