Florida Lawsuit Legislation Would Pull Out the Chair on Corporate "Empty Chair" Tactics!

A Florida lawsuit bill attempting to prevent corporations from passing the blame for personal injuries on other parties has reopened a heated debate in the state about who should pay in negligence lawsuits.

Republican State Representative Mitch Needleman has proposed Florida lawsuit legislation which would try to prevent corporations from attributing blame for injuries on others who have not been sued. Needleman has experienced this "empty chair" tactic first-hand, according to an online Tallahassee Democrat story.

Needleman was involved in a boating accident years ago while working for the Florida Marine Patrol. After a boater who rammed Needleman's craft sustained injuries and sued the state, Needleman said that the state tried to pass the blame on him.

Needleman added that he did not know about the personal injury lawsuit until two years after the boating accident when he was running for the State Legislature in 2000. He called the "empty chair" tactic unfair and said that it did not even provide him with the opportunity to defend his good name.

Trial lawyer Tom Edwards said in the story that Needleman's Florida lawsuit bill would result in less litigation and free up the courts since lawyers wouldn't have to sue anyone who had some minor involvement in the specific type of accident.

Lobbyists for hospitals, corporations and insurance companies could not disagree anymore, saying that such Florida lawsuit legislation would make them bulls-eye targets leaving them wide open to more personal injury lawsuits. Florida Chamber of Commerce Lobbyist David Daniel openly questioned the premise of Needleman's lawsuit legislation. He specifically said that this Florida lawsuit legislation would shield juries from contributors in accidents and allow trial lawyers to go after whoever they want.

Florida Lawsuit Bill Reflective of Recent Debates between Trial Lawyers & Lobbyists in Other States!

The Tallahassee Democrat story detailed that insurance agents, hospitals and businesses packed a House committee hearing last week in reaction to Needleman's Florida lawsuit bill. They specifically charged Needleman with tampering with the new ground rules for Florida personal injury lawsuits as established by former Governor Jeb Bush and Republican lawmakers last year. At that time, the Florida State Legislature voted to bar personal injury victims from making defendants in court pay more than their share of lost wages and medical expenses, according to the story.

This grappling between personal injury lawyers and lobbyists in Florida is reflective of similar debates in states like Georgia and Michigan during the last couple of weeks. Georgia lawmakers are considering medical malpractice legislation revamping the Peach State's landmark 2005 tort law, which some feel provides emergency room doctors with too much protection from being sued. Specifically, this Georgia medical malpractice legislation would shift the burden of proof against emergency room doctors from gross negligence to ordinary negligence.

Michigan lawmakers are considering repealing a unique 1996 law in the Wolverine State which makes it harder to file product liability lawsuits against drug companies. Specifically, three Michigan drug lawsuits bills would combine to get rid of the state's current ban on product liability lawsuits pertaining to prescription drugs approved by the FDA, and would establish a three-year window to file such personal injury claims.

If you've suffered a personal injury due to someone else's negligence, consider speaking to a local personal injury attorney about your case.


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