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Florida Litigation Funding Bill Founders; Plan to Bar Policy Cancellations Gets Changes *Centurion Insurance AFS*

Feb 23, 2024 (0) comment , , , , , , , , , , ,


Florida bills that target litigation financing, which seemed to be on their way to quick approval a week ago, have all but foundered in the state Capitol.

House Bill 1179, by Rep. Toby Overdorf, and its companion, Senate Bill 1276, would have required more disclosure by litigation funding firms that back lawsuits and would have prohibited them from influencing the outcome of cases. But lobbyists and lawmakers said this week that legislators’ appetites for litigation limits had been reduced after 2022 and 2023 tort reform and insurance lawsuit packages were signed into law.

State representatives that supported the measures said it’s possible that one bill could be revived before the legislative session ends March 9. But it’s more likely that the bills will be filed again next year, according to news reports and lobbyists in Tallahassee.

Private funding of lawsuits has enflamed business and insurance interests across the country. Those groups have said the financing creates and prolongs litigation for the sake of profit, instead of justice. They have pointed to examples in which a business agreed to settle but the financiers refused. A federal judge in February added fuel to the fire when he blocked a plan by the food giant Sysco Corp. to hand off all of its claims to funder Burford Capital, Bloomberg Law news service reported.

Meanwhile, a measure dubbed “the insurance agents’ bill” appears to be alive and well in the Florida House, with changes, after approval by the House Commerce Committee. An earlier version of HB 1149, by Rep. Adam Botana, would have barred insurers from cancelling or non-renewing homeowner policies on storm-damaged property for at least 90 days after repairs are completed, with some exceptions.

A late change to the bill, in the committee Thursday, would allow more exceptions to that and would let the state insurance commissioner issue an order temporarily suspending cancellations in ZIP codes hard-hit by flooding.

The adopted amendment to the bill can be seen here. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 1104, is on the agenda Monday for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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