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An Urgent Call for Special Sessions  Before the End of 2005  to Pass Meaningful Tort Reform in Florida

June 8, 2005

The state’s employers and citizens are calling on The Florida Senate to complete the task of achieving meaningful tort reform in Florida before the end of 2005. Despite the support of a strong and united employer community and consumers statewide, The Florida Senate failed during the 2005 Regular Session to even address the issue of joint and several liability, the most vital component of the tort reform package. While progress made in the areas of street light, asbestos litigation reform, vicarious liability and road builders’ liability is a positive step, the real work remains unfinished. The Florida House of Representatives did a superb job by enacting broad-based tort reform, including the repeal of joint and several … The Florida Senate failed on true tort reform, even though we feel “the votes were there” if the real issues had been brought up.

The repeal of joint and several liability continues to be the top priority of the Florida Coalition for Legal Reform. Due to the complexity of tort reform issues, our elected leaders must take the needed time to deal with this vital issue. We are urging Governor Jeb Bush to call a series of special sessions to be held before the end of 2005 so that lawmakers can continue their work in passing a real solution that will restore a more fair and balanced legal system for Florida.

Tort Reform Special Sessions will:

· Allow lawmakers to achieve meaningful tort reform in Florida by abolishing joint and several liability.

· Allow passage of other key tort reform issues such as sellers liability, bad faith, class action reform, The Jury Patriotism Act, limitation of attorney’s fees, etc.

· Satisfy the great majority of Floridians who favor tort reform - 80% of those polled believe it is UNFAIR for a defendant to pay more than their fair share in a liability lawsuit.

· Put an end to the “deep pocket” mentality that allows guilty parties to go unpunished and forces business to pay unfair settlements, resulting in higher prices to consumers.

Between now and the end of the year is a critical time for lawmakers to continue their pursuit of solving our civil justice reform problems. With every day that passes, the livelihood of our citizens and businesses is being negatively impacted. It is imperative lawmakers commit the time needed through special sessions to focus on this complex and critical issue. Only with the elimination of joint and several liability, will the people of Florida see the return of a civil justice system that is based on common sense and fairness for all.