February 12, 2001
Late Friday afternoon, Circuit Court Judge Nikki Clark struck down the tort reform law passed by the legislature and governor in 1999.
The tort reform law was struck down based on a technical judgement made by Judge Clark. The Florida Constitution requires that a new law be limited to a single subject. Despite the fact that three Florida Supreme Court rulings in the past 20 years have held that "tort reform" constitutes a single subject, Judge Clark held that the reform law violated the single subject requirement. Judge Clark did not rule on the substantive merits of the tort reform law.The 1999 reforms, passed despite the furious opposition of the trial bar and largely hostile media coverage, were passed with the intent of bringing Florida tort law into mainstream, consistent with tort law throughout the United States. The law levels the playing field for all parties in a civil suit and insures fair compensation for the injured plaintiff. The law also lends predictability to Florida’s legal system, a must for employers who watched with horror as Florida’s legal system increasingly resembled a combination of Perry Mason and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."AIF and other members of the business community pledged their continued diligence on behalf of Florida’s employers in a statement released to the press today, Monday, February 12, 2001. "Judge Clark’s ruling slants the playing field in favor of frivolous lawsuits and against fair play," said Jon L. Shebel, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida in the statement.
AIF and other business representatives met with the Speaker of the House, Tom Feeney (R-Oviedo) today to discuss the issue and to review our options for the upcoming 2001 session of the legislature.