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Joint & Several Liability Comes Up in Senate Committee

November 20, 2015

This week, AIF led the business community’s efforts in fighting a trial bar backed proposal that expands joint and several liability on Florida businesses.

Most AIF members recall how hard we fought together until 2006 when we eventually fully repealed joint and several liability in our judicial system.  The rationale behind this important concept is simple – no one should have to pay more than their fair share for injuries caused in a negligence or personal injury case.  This time the amendment was filed to a bill regulating the legal procedures to be followed in lawsuits alleging an injury caused by drones – SB 642 by Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The amendment creates an exception to the negligence statute which would require operators, owners and manufacturers to each be fully responsible for all damages caused by a drone – regardless of the portion of fault allocated to each of them in legal proceedings. Senator Jeremy Ring was presided over this portion of the meeting and adopted the amendment to the bill with no public testimony, discussion or debate.

AIF’s General Counsel, Tammy Perdue, stood in opposition to the bill with the amendment and stressed to the committee how important a stable and fair legal climate is to our state’s continued economic success. Her concerns were echoed by AIF’s other partners in the business community – Florida Justice Reform Institute, Florida Retail Federation, Florida United Businesses Association and National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Both Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) and Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) expressed concerns over the hasty amendment adoption and urged Senator Diaz de la Portilla to work with Ms. Perdue and the Florida business community to address the judicial inequities discussed as the legislative process continues through session. The bill was reported favorably from the committee on a narrow 5-4 vote. Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Senator Wilton Simpson (R-New Port Richey) joined Senators Brandes and Bean in voting against the measure.

AIF will continue to monitor this bill’s progress and will be on guard for other trial bar attacks that threaten our economic success and judicial fairness.

Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting & Tammy Perdue's Testimony