Fla. Special Session Expires With Impasse on Medical Liability

June 26, 2003

The Florida legislature’s reported inability to agree on a compromise bill dealing with medical liability caused its Special Session B to
expire without any action taken on the issue.

“Both the House and Senate had two very different proposals on the
legislative language for a medical liability bill, which was the reason for the special session to begin with,” said James Taylor, southeastern regional manager of the National Association Independent Insurers (NAII). “But because there was no movement toward a compromise, further meetings were deemed useless.”

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has stated that he plans to convene another special session on medical liability reform on July 9. Bush criticized the Senate legislation but stated that both the House and Senate bills fall short of what is needed.

The Florida House approved H.B. 63B, a bill that would create a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical liability lawsuits. The Senate voted to pass CS/S.B. 2B, a bill allowing a more flexible cap of $500,000 in non-economic damages against doctors, $500,000 against hospitals and $500,000 against third parties, with the ability to raise the cap to $2 million in named catastrophic events. The caps would be temporary and automatically repealed in 2006.

Gov. Bush has reportedly clearly indicated he favors the flat $250,000 non-economic damages cap which is supported by insurers and the medical community.

“We agree with the governor’s wish to address the medical liability system’s bad faith and punitive damage abuses, and tighten up the loopholes,” continued Taylor. “And we encourage the legislature to address this matter as quickly as possible.”

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