Bill warranting tougher expert witness standards advances

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In a proposal backed by business and medical groups, a House committee Wednesday approved a bill that would impose stricter standards for expert witnesses in lawsuits.

Supporters say the measure (HB 7015) would help prevent “junk science” from going before juries, but opponents argue it is unnecessary and would drive up legal costs. Sponsor Larry Metz said the bill, which would require the same standard as used in federal courts and many other states, would increase the vetting of potential expert witnesses by judges. Under Florida’s decades-old standard, Metz said the “gates are wide open” for such witnesses to go before juries.

But Pensacola trial attorney Troy Rafferty, representing the Florida Justice Association, said defense lawyers use challenges to expert witnesses as a tactical maneuver. He said such moves make it more burdensome and expensive to pursue cases. “There is no need to change the standard in Florida,” Rafferty said. The bill, which also is opposed by prosecuting attorneys, was approved 12-5 by the Judiciary Committee and is ready to go to the full House.

The Senate version (SB 1412) has not moved through committees.

Via the News Service of Florida.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.