Florida Justice Reform Institute, Logo

Legislative Achievements in Civil Justice Reform

The Florida Justice Reform Institute was created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce in 2005. 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 through civil justice reform.


2023 will be remembered as watershed year for civil justice reform in Florida. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Legislature passed a comprehensive, transformational bill full of long-time FJRI priorities. These included repeal of the one-way attorney fee statute and limits on contingency risk multipliers, clarity and a safe harbor for third-party bad faith actions, transparency in medical damages and limits on Letters of Protection, premises liability reform, and adoption of modified comparative liability. FJRI proudly played a central role in the development and support of this monumental achievement.

 With the dam breaking, the Legislature also passed several more FJRI priorities including: reforming construction defect litigation by lowering the statute of repose for latent defects to seven years and clarifying when that timeframe begins; abolishing assignments of benefits for auto windshield claims; clarifying what constitutes consumer consent and disclosure and providing a safe harbor from “gotcha” litigation for businesses who market using phone calls and texts.

2022 Special Session A

Summary of SB 2A

Governor Ron DeSantis called the Florida Legislature to a special session in December 2022 to address the state’s growing property insurance crisis.  The proposals before the Legislature included numerous provisions in HB 1A and SB 2A designed to discourage frivolous and expensive insurance litigation largely driven by the pursuit of attorneys’ fees.  The Florida Justice Reform Institute advocated for both bills and successfully fought back amendments that would have undercut the efficacy of the proposed reforms.  On December 14, 2022, the Legislature approved SB 2A and presented it to the Governor.  The below summarizes the major litigation-related reforms included in SB 2A and then details the amendments that were successfully defeated.

Eliminating the Applicability of One-Way Attorney Fees in Property Insurance Cases (Sections 6, 13, and 17)

Florida’s insurance industry is in crisis largely as a result of litigation driven by the pursuit of attorneys’ fees.  The one-way attorney fee statutes, sections 627.428 and 626.9373, Florida Statutes, have essentially made insurance policy breach litigation risk-free for plaintiffs.  Because these fee-shifting statutes are one-way—as only prevailing plaintiffs may recover their attorneys’ fees, not prevailing insurers—they incentivize plaintiffs to bring suit, even over low-dollar disputes.  This results in low damage claims driving high recovery of plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees, which is costing insurers and Florida taxpayers billions of dollars per year. 

While the Legislature has taken some action over the past few sessions to reduce the use of the one-way attorney fee statutes, the one-way attorney fee laws remain on the books and enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys continue to attempt to exploit them.  Indeed, although the Legislature has previously enacted section 627.70152, Florida Statutes, which ties the recovery of attorneys’ fees by insureds in property insurance cases to the degree of success achieved in the suit, the Legislature can and should expect that the plaintiffs’ bar will continue finding and exploiting loopholes, undercutting these reform efforts.  

SB 2A—specifically, through Sections 6, 13, and 17—deletes the attorneys’ fee regime in section 627.70152 and amends section 626.428 and 626.9373 to state, in relevant part:

In a suit arising under a residential or commercial property insurance policy, 
there is no right to attorney fees under this section. 

Making an Adverse Court Adjudication a Predicate for a Bad Faith Claim (Section 2)

Eliminating the applicability of one-way attorney fees in property insurance cases is not enough to alleviate the emergency facing Florida’s insurance industry.  This is because even if one-way attorney fees no longer apply in insurance policy breach litigation, much of that litigation will be routed instead through first-party bad faith actions under section 624.155, Florida Statutes, pursuant to which an insured may bring an action against his or her insurer for acting in bad faith and recover his or her attorneys’ fees.  Although this statute is meant to punish bad faith conduct, and not a plaintiff’s attorney’s manufactured breach of contract by an insurer, appellate courts’ interpretation of that statute (most notably in the Cammarata case) has prompted abuse of this statute to pursue damages and attorneys’ fees even over low-dollar disputes.  Section 624.1551, Florida Statutes, while intended to counteract such abuse of section 624.155, leaves open to interpretation what is necessary to establish a “breach” by an insurer so as to pursue extracontractual damages under section 624.155 and thus has not dampened meritless bad faith litigation.

To address this, Section 2 of SB 2A would amend section 624.1551, Florida Statutes, to ensure that: (1) no action for bad faith will lie without the insured first obtaining an actual adverse adjudication against the insurer as determined by a court of law; and (2) an adverse adjudication that may lead to bad faith does not include when an insurer simply accepts an offer of judgment or pays an appraisal award.  Specifically, Section 2 amends section 624.1551 as follows:

Notwithstanding any provision of s. 624.155 court to the contrary, in any claim for
damages under s. 624.155(1)(b), no action shall lie until a named
or omnibus insured or a named beneficiary has established through an adverse
adjudication by  a claimant must establish that the property insurer breached the
insurance contract and a final judgment or decree has been rendered against the
insurer. Acceptance of an offer of judgment under s. 768.79 or the payment of an
appraisal award does not constitute an adverse adjudication under this section.
The difference between an insurer’s appraiser’s final estimate and the appraisal
award may be evidence of bad faith
to prevail in a claim for extracontractual damages
s. 624.155(1)(b),
but is not deemed an adverse adjudication under this section
and does not, on its own, give rise to a
cause of action.

Authorizing Joint Offers of Judgment (Section 24)

The Offer of Judgment Statute, section 768.79, Florida Statutes, is a fee-shifting provision which serves to encourage parties to settle lawsuits early in the litigation.  The statute penalizes a litigant who rejects a reasonable offer to settle the lawsuit by requiring the litigant to pay the offeror’s attorney’s fees and costs incurred from the time the offer was served. 

However, due to Rule 1.442 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides the procedural requirements for offers or demands made under the Offer of Judgment Statute, and applicable case law, insurers are effectively unable to benefit from the Offer of Judgment Statute in lawsuits against insureds, while insureds are still able to use the statute to require insurers to pay their attorney’s fees under certain circumstances.  Specifically, Florida courts have interpreted the law and rule to mean that a party may not present a joint offer conditioned on the acceptance of all offerees.  Because lawsuits by insured-plaintiffs against insurer-defendants under insurance policies often involve multiple insured-plaintiffs, the prohibition on conditioning a joint offer of judgment on acceptance by all insured-plaintiffs renders the benefits of the Offer for Judgment Statute largely unavailable for insurers in breach of insurance policy cases.  For example, where an insurer makes an offer of judgment on husband and wife insured-plaintiffs, one spouse can accept the offer and receive the settlement payment while the other spouse can continue the lawsuit against the insurer with no interruption or penalty for rejecting a reasonable settlement offer.  As a result, the law currently effectively eliminates the ability to make joint offers and renders settlement of a case impossible where there are multiple parties on one side. 

The Offer of Judgment Statute is meant to benefit both plaintiffs and defendants.  Yet under Rule 1.442 and applicable case law, the benefits of the statute for insurer-defendants have been effectively negated while the benefits to insured-plaintiffs remain intact.  Thus, to prevent the Offer of Judgment Statute from becoming the new one-way attorney fee statute favoring plaintiff-insureds, the Legislature should approve HB 1A and SB 2A.  Specifically, Section 24 of both bills (HB 1A, § 24, lines 3037-3039; SB 2A, § 24, lines 3022-3024) would amend section 768.79 to state as follows:

                  (6) For a breach of contract action, a property insurer may make a joint offer of judgment 
settlement that is conditioned on the mutual acceptance of all the joint offerees.

Reducing the Time Periods by which Insureds May File Notice of Claims (Section 16)

When an insured incurs property damage caused by a hurricane or other severe weather event, he or she is typically aware of the damage immediately after the hurricane or other severe weather event has occurred.  Yet, section 627.70132, Florida Statutes, currently gives insureds two years to notify their insurers of severe weather-related claims and reopened claims and gives insureds three years to notify their insurers of severe weather-related supplemental claims.  These time periods for insureds to give notice of claims are far too long and open the door to claims made long after the hurricane or severe weather event at issue has occurred, which are often not legitimately caused by the hurricane or other severe weather event.  As a result, the two- and three-year time periods for notices of claims in section 627.70132, Florida Statutes, have contributed to unnecessary skyrocketing property insurance costs in Florida and the state’s current property insurance crisis. 

To reduce the number of meritless and fraudulent insurance claims made following hurricanes and other severe weather events, and to alleviate skyrocketing property insurance costs plaguing Floridians, Section 16 of SB 2A would amend section 627.70132, Florida Statutes, to require insureds to notify property insurers of severe weather-related claims and reopened claims within one year of the severe weather event at issue and to notify property insurers of supplemental claims within 18 months of the severe weather event at issue.  Specifically, the legislation would amend section 627.70132(2) to state:

A claim or reopened claim, but not a supplemental claim, under an insurance policy
that provides
property insurance, as defined in s. 624.604, including a property
insurance policy issued by
an eligible surplus lines insurer, for loss or damage
caused by any peril is barred unless notice
of the claim was given to the insurer
in accordance with the terms of the policy within 1 year 2
years after the date of
loss. A supplemental claim is barred unless notice of the supplemental claim
given to the insurer in accordance with the terms of the policy within 18 months
3 years after
the date of loss.

Ending Once and for All Assignment of Benefit Litigation (Section 21)

An assignment of benefits (“AOB”) occurs when a policyholder signs over his or her right to a claim under an insurance policy to a third party, such as a roofer or a home contractor.  Armed with an AOB, that third party may then seek a higher claim payout from the insurer, based on inflated rates or unnecessary services or repairs.  If the insurer objects to paying the claim, the third party can sue the insurer.  In the past, those parties armed with AOBs were entitled to seek their attorneys’ fees under section 627.428, Florida Statutes.  While the Legislature has acted to stop such practice, enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys still continue attempts to make end-runs around these reforms in the never-ending pursuit of fees.  It is time to end the practice of AOBs once and for all in property insurance litigation.  SB 2A would accomplish that.  Specifically, Section 21 of SB 2A amends section 627.7152, Florida Statutes, as follows:

(13) Except as provided in subsection 11, a policyholder may not assign, in whole or
in part,
any post-loss insurance benefit under any residential property insurance
policy or under any commercial property insurance policy as that term is defined in
s. 627.0625(1), issued on or after January 1, 2023. An attempt to assign post-loss
property insurance benefits under such a policy is void, invalid, and unenforceable
This section applies to an assignment agreement executed on or after July 1, 2019.

Allowing Insurers to Use Mandatory Binding Arbitration (Section 18)

The legislation also provides specific conditions whereby a property insurer may include mandatory binding arbitration in its policies.  Specifically, Section 18 of SB 2A would create section 627.70153, Florida Statutes, which would provide for mandatory binding arbitration in these circumstances:

627.70154 Mandatory binding arbitration.—A property insurance policy issued in this state may not require that a policyholder participate in mandatory binding arbitration unless all of the following apply:

(1) The mandatory binding arbitration requirements are contained in a separate endorsement attached to the property insurance policy.

(2) The premium that a policyholder is charged for the policy includes an actuarially sound credit or premium discount for the mandatory binding arbitration endorsement.

(3) The policyholder signs a form electing to accept mandatory binding arbitration. The form must notify the policyholder of the rights given up in exchange for the credit or premium discount, including, but not limited to, the right to a trial by jury.

(4) The endorsement establishes that an insurer will comply with the mediation provisions set forth in s. 627.7015 before the initiation of arbitration.

(5) The insurer also offers the policyholder a policy that does not require that the policyholder participate in mandatory binding arbitration.

2022 Special Session D

In the Special Session D called to address Florida’ property insurance crisis, FJRI worked closely with the Governor’s office and legislative leaders on significant litigation reforms including: reversing Joyce v. Federated National Insurance Company and conforming Florida law to Federal law so that contingency risk multipliers are only applied in rare and exceptional circumstances; prohibiting assignment of the one-way attorney’s fee right under 627.428 and 626.9373, Florida Statutes; and, reversing Cammarata v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co. to require a claimant to establish a breach of contract in order to prevail on a first-party bad faith claim against an insurer.


The 2022 Regular Session proved to be one of the most challenging years for FJRI, and we responded by engaging vigorously and without fear or favor. In a continuing trend, the legislature increasingly turned to proposals that would expand liability or authorize new causes of action as enforcement mechanisms for novel grievances.

 Our biggest success came on a positive note as we supported the successful passage of SB 7014, to extend for another 14 months the COVID-19 liability protections for health care providers for claims that might accrue prior to June 1, 2023.

 Most of our other advocacy, although successful, was defensive in nature as we spent substantial time and resources highlighting the shortcomings of and opposing bills that would have increased litigation on subjects like data privacy, medical malpractice, employee-employer relations, sovereign immunity, and auto insurance.


The Florida Supreme Court kicked the year off by adopting the federal summary judgment standard for Florida state courts by their ruling in WilsonArt v. Lopez. FJRI had filed an amicus brief, and the Court’s ruling largely followed FJRI’s reasoning. FJRI also played a leading role in the passage of legislation to extend COVID-19 liability protections to employers, including a heightened culpability standard of gross negligence or intentional conduct, a heightened evidentiary standard of clear and convincing evidence, and a shortened statute of limitations.

2019 - 2020

FJRI was a leading advocate for assignment of benefits legislation in 2019, including replacing the one-way attorney fee for insurance claim assignees with a defined prevailing party formula. FJRI also successfully supported bills to narrow the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, and give appraisal time to work before a claimant can file a civil remedy notice for bad faith.

FJRI also made progress on accuracy in damages, which passed all of its House committees for the first time, and welcomed renewed attention on medical malpractice and workers’ compensation reform. Finally, FJRI was the only entity to publicly oppose legislation that stripped pharmacies of legal protections originally granted to them for reporting data to the Physician Drug Monitoring Program opioid database.

In 2020, FJRI priorities like accuracy in damages and bad faith reform progressed further than ever through the legislative process, and new issues like litigation financing and asbestos trust claims reform saw substantial discussion and consideration.


FJRI went back on offense in 2019, as the 2018 elections and new legislative leadership brought renewed enthusiasm for civil justice reform.

FJRI was a leading advocate for assignment of benefits legislation that replaced the one-way attorney fee for insurance claim assignees with a defined prevailing party formula. FJRI also successfully supported bills that narrow the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, and give appraisal time to work before a claimant can file a civil remedy notice for bad faith.

FJRI also made progress on accuracy in damages, which passed all of its House committees for the first time, and welcomed renewed attention on medical malpractice and workers’ compensation reform.


2017 - 2018

As expected, the past two-year cycle saw a trial bar on the offense, as FJRI fought bill after bill designed to expand liability and litigation or deflect consideration of business-oriented proposals on similar topics.

In 2017, FJRI led the opposition to mandatory prejudgment interest that if enacted would force defendants to settle meritless cases, FJRI also weighed in where few dared to tread, opposing and defeating judicial term limits, a leadership priority.

In 2018, FJRI successfully worked to defeat numerous trial bar priorities, including: bills to replace auto no-fault with higher-limit mandatory liability and medical payments coverages, but naturally without any bad faith reform; bills to repeal Florida’s long-standing nonjoinder statute that prevents prejudicing juries into making unreasonably large awards based on the defendant’s “deep pocket”; and, bills that would have raised the county court jurisdiction limits from $15,000 to $50,000, placing more complex cases with less experienced county court judges, and increasing the appellate burden for circuit courts unprepared to deal with the caseload.

In recent years, the FJRI has unified the state’s business community to collectively advocate for civil justice reforms that restore fairness and predictability to Florida’s courts.


FJRI has led the way on several long-term, "big lift" battles on a handful of top priorities.  These have included accuracy in damages, so that juries hear all the evidence regarding the actual cost and value of rendered medical treatment before making an award; fair settlement of insurance claims, to provide clear guidelines before a plaintiff can file a bad faith lawsuit and assignment of benefits, to ensure that policyholders remain in control of all their insurance rights and benefits.

FJRI has also increasingly fought defensive actions on issues supported by trial attorneys, that propose to increase the cost and frequency of litigation.  These have included mandatory prejudgment interest and mandated rental car liability insurance, as well as emerging issues like drone liability. 

We've also continued to support the full implementation of the Daubert expert evidence standard passed by the legislature in 2013.



During the 2013 session, capping a multi-year effort by FJRI, lawmakers replaced Florida’s 90-year-old expert evidence standard with the modern Daubert standard used in all federal courts and many states’ courts. Unlike the old standard that allowed the admission of pure opinion, under Daubert, judges act as “gatekeepers” and are responsible for ensuring that expert evidence presented in court is relevant, reliable, and based on sound science. This historic achievement will help put an end to the forum shopping that imports litigation into Florida.

FJRI successfully supported legislation that ensures a physician’s right to legal counsel, and requires expert witnesses to practice in the same specialty as the defendant.



During the 2012 legislative session FJRI helped lead the charge to reform Florida’s broken Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system. 

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.

FJRI championed medical malpractice reforms during the 2011 legislative session.

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.



During the 2010 session, 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.  

State attorney generals, including the Florida Attorney General, have the power to hire private attorneys to sue on the state's behalf, and compensate these attorneys through the use of contingency fee agreements.  This compensation comes out of the state's coffers without first going through an appropriations process, and is subtracted from judgments awarded to the state for damages incurred by the people of Florida.   

During the 2010 session, FJRI was a strong advocate for legislation championed by then Attorney General Bill McCollum, 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.

During the 2010 Session, FJRI championed reforms to the state's slip-and-fall laws to restore standards of constructive notice for businesses without forfeiting sound protections for injured business patrons.

In recent years, Florida businesses were experiencing a considerable increase in exposure to predatory lawsuits as a result of a 2002 law, which removed the requirement that a plaintiff prove that a business had knowledge of the existence of an transitory foreign substance that presented a danger to patrons and could cause them to "slip-and-fall."

In 2010, FJRI led the charge to pass the new law adopting a reasonable framework for slip-and-fall liability and restoring a logical standard of constructive notice.   

During the 2010 session, FJRI helped restore the rights of parents to sign a liability waiver on behalf of their minor child.

A 2008 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court in Kirton vs. Fields compromised the enforceability of pre-injury release forms, also know as liability waivers, signed by a parent and given to a service provider when their child participated in a specified activity. 

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, understanding there is some inherent risk when children participate in activities like riding ATVs, scuba diving and even playing sports. 



The entire business community was united in support of the passage HB 903, which restores critical workers' compensation reforms passed in 2003, which were undone by the Florida Supreme Court ruling, Murray vs. Mariners Health. 

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.



In 2008, FJRI identified several legislative priorities that built on past civil justice, like the abolishment of joint and several liability, reforming the state's bad faith laws, providing sovereign immunity to emergency medical providers and ensuring that expert witness testimony presented in Florida's courts is reliable and relevant. 

FJRI also successfully blocked several attempts by trial lawyers during the legislative session to enact sweeping reforms to Florida's arbitration system.  Their proposals would have detrimentally altered Florida's arbitration system and the ability for businesses and consumers to settle without going to court. 



During the legislative session FJRI defended civil justice on behalf of Florida's business community by blocking several initiatives pushed by the Florida Trial Bar that would have undone civil justice reforms passed in recent years and advanced the ability for trial attorneys to target businesses for lawsuits.

FJRI successfully blocked several attempts by the Trial Bar to repeal the so-called "Fabre Doctrine" during the legislative session -- which would have abolished the 2006 joint and several liability reforms.  



During the 2006 legislative session, FJRI helped pass some of the most significant civil justice reforms in the state's history. 

On April 26, 206, Governor Jeb Bush put an end to a 33-year struggle to restore fairness and predictability to Florida's civil justice system by signing HB 145, repealing the unfair doctrine of joint and several liability.

HB 145 ended the unjust and illogical mismatch of two disparate legal concepts: comparative fault and joint and several liability.

Now, defendants are no longer forced to pay more than their fair share of damages when another defendant cannot pay.

The repeal of joint and several liability was a historic first step in restoring fairness, common sense, and predictability to Florida's civil justice system.

The FJRI also successfully passed HB 7259, limiting class action lawsuits to Florida residents with limited exceptions.

The legislation leaves the doors of Florida's courts open to real victims, while providing judges with the tools needed to throw out unjustified class action lawsuits. 


In 2005, FJRI helped the business community pass several key civil justice reforms.

HB 1019 ensured that only truly sick patients, and not healthy litigants who were merely exposed at some point in their life, will have access to the available compensation for asbestos-related illnesses.

HB 135 provided limited liability for street light providers from lawsuits stemming from recently burned-out lights.