New Florida Appellate Rule Impacts Punitive Damages Litigation Practice – Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration

United States: New Florida Appellate Rule Impacts Punitive Damages Litigation Practice

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In a split decision, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to adopt an amendment to Rule 9.130, which allows parties to seek an immediate non-final appellate review of punitive damages orders. Scheduled to take effect April 1 this year, the rule provides for interlocutory appeal of non-final orders granting or denying leave to amend a complaint to assert a claim for punitive damages.

Plaintiffs in Florida are used to obtaining court permission to add a claim for punitive damages and know that supporting evidence must be filed with that claim. Florida statute §768.72 “prohibits claims for punitive damages absent reasonable evidence on the record or presented by the plaintiff that would find a reasonable basis for the recovery of such damages.”

This offer must provide proof of gross negligence or intentional negligence on the part of the opposing party. Once the court allows a party to seek these damages, the defendant may be forced to submit to financial discovery and disclose sensitive financial information.

Proponents of the new rule change say it is necessary because under the previous framework, parties had limited access to interlocutory appeals and were automatically subject to detailed financial value discovery and required to post bond pending the resolution of the appeal after judgment. The new rule allows for interlocutory review of evidentiary and procedural issues.

Rule 9.130 was changed after the Appeals Rules Committee proposed an amendment that adds subdivision (a)(3)(G) and is intended “to allow appeals of non-final orders that grant or deny a motion for leave to amend to assert a claim for punitive damages.” Prior to the passage of this amendment, the appellate court was limited in reviewing a trial court’s order granting leave to claim punitive damages. The rule change will now allow parties to request an immediate review.

Opponents of the rule, including dissenting Judge Labarga, feared the new option for parties would stall cases at the trial court level and cause additional pressure on an already overburdened and backlogged court system. Additionally, some have expressed concern that well-founded claims for damages may be dropped in the interest of resolving the case and avoiding further delays. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga said in his dissent that he was particularly concerned about the fate of the personal injury lawsuits. He said: “Claims for much-needed medical and economic relief will remain blocked until the issue of punitive damages is resolved. appeal of the trial court’s order resulting in unprecedented delays in the final disposition of cases.

Attorneys for Wood, Smith, Henning and Berman are fully aware of this rule change and are available to answer any questions you may have about the impact this may have on your case or future litigation. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team if you have any questions or concerns regarding this new development in the Florida trial process.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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