Florida Legislature Targets Enhanced Injury Law

In the November, 2010 election, Republicans gained additional seats in the Florida House and Senate, making their previous solid majorities even stronger. Combined with the election of pro-big business Republican Governor Rick Scott, individuals should expect to see their rights at seeking redress from large corporations dramatically curtailed.

One of the first orders of business for the Republican legislature will be to eliminate the “enhanced injury” doctrine. As I discussed in a previous blog, the enhanced injury doctrine is a principle of law that allows civil courts to hold corporations accountable for damages caused by their negligence that exceed the damages due to the initial fault. A clear and simple example of the principle in application comes from the seminal case on the doctrine, D’Amario v. Ford Motor Company, 806 So.2d 424 (Fla. 2001). D’Amario involved a minor passenger in a vehicle that struck a tree. Following the impact, a fire began that ended in an explosion, causing the minor to lose three limbs and suffer burns to much of his body. The minor and his mother sued Ford alleging that a defective relay switch in the automobile caused the fire. They alleged that but for the defective switch, the fire would not have started and the minor’s injuries would have been limited to those from impacting the tree. Consistent with the enhanced injury doctrine, they limited their claim for damages to those caused by the fire. The case went to trial and was ultimately appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held Ford Motor Company responsible for the enhanced injuries, thus establishing the doctrine.

From discussions held in legislative committee meetings since the election, it is known that the Republican leadership has its sights set on eliminating the enhanced injury doctrine. Passage of a bill is practically assured. A Governor Rick Scott is highly unlikely to veto the bill. In fact, he is a likely proponent of such legislation.

In D’Amario v. Ford Motor Company, the innocent minor received full compensation for his catastrophic injuries. If the Republican Florida legislature has its way, this outcome will be a thing of the past for severely injured Floridians.

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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.

Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.