Florida Tort Reform

The Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment to limit attorneys’ fees in med mal cases to 30% of the first $250K in damages and 10% in any recovery about $250K.

So, a $1M verdict would entitle the patient’s attorney to a total fee of $130K. A $2M verdict would result in a fee of $260K. The result: in other than a slam dunk case where no liability or causation discovery was necessary, a plaintiff’s attorney would be working for $100 per hour or less, an amount less than the paralegal rate in major cities.

Florida plaintiffs’ attorneys then starting giving their potential clients the option of waiving their “constitutional right” to a fee cap.

Now, 55 Florida lawyers have filed a petition to ask the Florida Supreme Court to cap the fees of plaintiffs’ attorneys in med mal cases by rule. Here is the petition they filed. The Petition was filed by Holland & Knight, a law firm that has 52 lawyers that represent the health care industry.

These lawyers who signed this Petition have the right to free speech. So do I. Each of the lawyers are an embarrassment to the profession. Each of them know – or should know – that these fee caps work to deprive med mal victims of representation by good lawyers. To the extent that any of these lawyers defend malpractice cases, they obviously fear competent representation of a patient. I would suggest that these lawyers get out of med mal defense work and do something more consistent with their confidence in their ability to persuade like, say, working the floating plastic duckling concession at a carnival.

Most med mal lawyers I know know how difficult (and expensive) it is to prepare and try a med mal case for the plaintiff. Most would agree that these caps are absolutely ridiculous.

The Florida lawyers who filed this Petition ought to be ashamed. Hopefully, the Florida Supreme Court will reject it.

Thanks to Abstract Appeal for bringing this Petition to my attention.

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