The Florida Justice Reform Institute was created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce in 2005 and its mission is to fight wasteful civil litigation through legislation, promote fair and equitable legal practices and provide information about the state of civil justice in Florida. To facilitate these goals, the Institute employs research and advocacy in support of meaningful tort reform legislation.
Since its inception in 2005, the Florida Justice Reform Institute (FJRI) has helped pass pro-civil justice reform legislation and defeat legislation that disrupts the balance of our civil justice system. We are proud of our successes and invite you to join us in our mission of restoring accountability and predictability to Florida’s civil justice system.
During the 2012 legislative session FJRI helped lead the charge to reform Florida’s broken Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
This year, FJRI pushed successfully to end the practice of exponentially increasing litigation costs associated with Florida’s personal injury protection insurance by removing the use of attorney fee multipliers. These fee multipliers benefited attorneys at the expense of consumers and were costing insurers and Florida drivers millions of dollars.
During the 2011 session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 142, repealing the state's antiquated crashworthiness doctrine in cases brought against automobile manufacturers for vehicle malfunctions when there is an accident. Previous rulings prevented Florida juries from apportioning fault in accidents, meaning they couldn't consider a driver's fault in the accident, even if he was drunk, texting and otherwise distracted while driving. Under the new law, juries will be able to consider all of the facts, when determining fault in accidents where there was an alleged automobile design defect.
Medical Malpractice Reform
FJRI championed medical malpractice reforms during the 2011 legislative session.
Sinkhole Litigation Reform
During session, FJRI successfully incorporated provisions into the omnibus property insurance bill that shore up definitions of what would actually constitute a sinkhole claim and increases the burden on the plaintiff to actually prove their damages were, indeed, caused by a sinkhole.
FJRI continued to help lead the business community's efforts to restore fairness and predictability to the state's civil justice system. During the 2010 Legislation Session FJRI achieved several critical successes.
Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting
FJRI was a strong advocate for legislation championed by the Attorney General that ensures there is transparency in private attorney contracts with the state. The new law, caps the amount private attorneys can collect in fees, preventing money rightfully owed to the state from being diverted to over compensate private attorneys.
Slip and Fall Reform
FJRI led the charge to pass a new law which adopts a more logical framework for slip and fall liability. The new law restores a logical standard of constructive notice that protects businesses which drive the state's economic engine, from abusive and unduly expensive litigation without jeopardizing the meritorious claims of injured parties.
Parental Liability Waivers
FJRI helped restore the rights of parents to sign a liability waiver on behalf of their minor child. The new law takes into account the rights of children to have access to these activities and the ability of a parent to make decisions in the best interest of their child with the understanding that there is some inherent risk when a child participates in activities like riding ATVs, scuba diving and playing sports.
In 2009,workers' compensation reform was FJRI's priority bill (House Bill 903). The entire business community was united in support of the passage of this fine bill, which restores critical reforms passed in 2003 and which were undone by the recent Florida Supreme Court ruling, Murray v. Mariners Health.
The action taken by the Legislature in approving HB 903 clarifies the limit on excessive attorneys' fees and ensures the well-being of millions of hardworking Floridians, businesses, and the state's overall economy.
FJRI identified several legislative priorities that built on past civil justice reforms, like the abolishment of joint and several liability, and continue the Institute’s mission of enacting common sense civil justice reforms that restore order in Florida’s courts.
FJRI defended civil justice in Florida on behalf of Florida’s business community by blocking several initiatives being pushed by the Florida Plaintiffs’ Bar that would undo civil justice reforms passed in recent years and advance the ability for trial attorneys to target businesses for lawsuits. This included blocking attempts during the legislative session by trial attorneys to enact sweeping reforms to Florida’s arbitration system that would significantly and detrimentally alter Florida’s arbitration system and that ability for businesses and consumers to settle claims without going to court.
FJRI successfully defeated a coordinated effort to resurrect joint and several liability by amending the Fabre doctrine.
Abolishment of Joint & Several Liability
FJRI succeeded in passing a full repeal of joint and several liability, the legal doctrine that forces defendants to pay more than their fair share of economic damages if other defendants who are more responsible are unable to pay.
"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser---in fees, expenses, and waste of time."
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Notes for a Law Lecture" (July 1, 1850), p. 81.