Florida Supreme Court to rule on expert witness standards

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The Florida Supreme Court expects to rule on the constitutionality of a contentious 2013 law to tighten standards for expert testimony in litigation.

Business groups, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, have backed the law, which forces the state to use similar standards as in federal courts — known in legal terms as “Daubert” standards.

However, attorneys for a woman who filed suit after pregnancy complications resulted in premature birth is asking the Supreme Court to decide on the constitutionality of the 2013 law.

Maria Franco-Perez filed suit against her employer, BellSouth Telecommunications in Miami-Dade County, claiming that workplace stress resulted in a “placental abruption,” premature birth with complications that led the infant to endure multiple surgeries, court documents say.

In April, the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled that expert medical expert testimony supporting Franco-Perez’s arguments was inadmissible under Daubert standards. Last week, attorneys filed a brief for the woman that contends, in part, the 2013 law improperly infringes on the state Supreme Court’s power to approve court system rules.

“The district court (of appeal) simply has no authority to validate a procedural statute; it must find it unconstitutional and allow this court to exercise its exclusive authority over the issue,” according to the brief.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.