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Attorney fee limit heads to full House

It would end the contingency risk multiplier in most cases.

Legislation that would prevent attorneys from taking home exorbitant fees on lawsuits tied to property insurance claims passed the House Commerce Committee today 16-7.

This is the second and final stop for HB 7071 on the House side. Next, it will be considered on the House floor.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Beltran, limits the use of the contingency risk multiplier to apply to only rare and exceptional circumstances. Currently, state law allows for courts to use the contingency risk multiplier in calculating attorney’s fees. As a result, attorneys may be awarded fees up to 30 times more than the value of the claim they represent in property insurance lawsuits.

“The purpose of the attorney fee multiplier is to ensure people are able to find a good lawyer to represent them,” Beltran said during the committee. “The purpose of this bill is to limit the multiplier to only those circumstances where they truly cannot obtain a lawyer but for the multiplier.”

SB 914, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, is the companion bill to HB 7071. This bill was passed favorably by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Jan. 21 and was passed favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Next, it will be heard in the Senate Rules Committee.

In the past two weeks, more than 1,000 Floridians have signed a petition to fight these lawsuits and attorneys’ fees, which are increasing the cost of homeownership for Florida families. Estimates show that homeowners’ property insurance rates could climb 10-fold over the next 10 years.

According to the 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Florida ranks 46th out of 50 and is one of the top-five worst states for unfair and unreasonable legal environments

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