Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee (‘Committee’) Report: February 8
Feb 8, 2012
The Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee (“Committee”) met today, February 8, 2012. To view the meeting packet, click here.
One of the bills taken up by the Committee was House Bill 313 relating to Premises Liability, filed by State Representatives Leonard Bembry (D-Madison) and Gregory Steube (R-Sarasota).
Representative Bembry briefly explained the bill. The following three amendments presented on the House Floor were adopted without debate or questions.
Amendment 1 states that written notice is to be provided to a person before or, at the time of entry upon the area. Or, notice must be posted on the premises.
Amendment 3 adds a legislative intent provision.
The bill was then passed unanimously as amended with no debate. Audience members on hand to testify waived their speaking time in support of the bill.
House Bill 243, filed by State Representatives Larry Metz (R-Eustis) and Michael Weinstein (R-Orange Park), was the last bill taken up by the Committee.
Representative Metz explained that HB 243 would change the standards used to qualify an expert witness to conform to the specified U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which is known as the Daubert Test. A witness is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, expertise, training or education and may testify in the form of opinion if he or she meets a three-part test:
(a) The testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data;
(b) The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(c) The witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
Currently, the State of Florida utilizes the Frye Standard to qualify an expert witness in court proceedings.
There were no questions from the Committee members to Representative Metz.
Several attorneys testified on both sides of HB 243. Those who testified in favor of it emphasized that the new standards would ensure that unreliable and non-mainstream sciences would be kept out of the courts. Judges would make the determinations on who can be qualified as an expert.
Numerous state attorneys and state trial attorneys spoke in opposition to HB 243, emphasizing the costs associated with making the type of shift it would require as it relates to training and education. In addition, they argued that such a change would increase the time to litigate cases, the amount of appeals and the amount of cases potentially reversed on appeal. HB 243, they insisted, would waste judicial resources at a time when resources are limited.
There were numerous questioned posed to each of the speakers by Committee members.
State Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) then moved to temporarily postpone the bill. The motion failed.
The Committee members then debated the bill. Many of the concerns raised through the public testimony were reiterated in the debate. Representatives Schwartz, Steinberg and Soto spoke in opposition to the bill, while Representatives Weinstein and Harrell spoke in favor of it.
Representative Metz then closed the discussion on the bill.
Although HB 243 has no additional committee stops before proceeding to the full House, the Committee retained the bill.
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