1999 Florida Code
TITLE XLV TORTS
Chapter 768 Negligence  
PART II DAMAGES (ss. 768.71-768.81)
768.81   Comparative fault.

1768.81  Comparative fault.--

(1)  DEFINITION.--As used in this section, "economic damages" means past lost income and future lost income reduced to present value; medical and funeral expenses; lost support and services; replacement value of lost personal property; loss of appraised fair market value of real property; costs of construction repairs, including labor, overhead, and profit; and any other economic loss which would not have occurred but for the injury giving rise to the cause of action.

(2)  EFFECT OF CONTRIBUTORY FAULT.--In an action to which this section applies, any contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant's contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.

(3)  APPORTIONMENT OF DAMAGES.--In cases to which this section applies, the court shall enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of such party's percentage of fault and not on the basis of the doctrine of joint and several liability, except as provided in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c):

(a)  Where a plaintiff is found to be at fault, the following shall apply:

1.  Any defendant found 10 percent or less at fault shall not be subject to joint and several liability.

2.  For any defendant found more than 10 percent but less than 25 percent at fault, joint and several liability shall not apply to that portion of economic damages in excess of $200,000.

3.  For any defendant found at least 25 percent but not more than 50 percent at fault, joint and several liability shall not apply to that portion of economic damages in excess of $500,000.

4.  For any defendant found more than 50 percent at fault, joint and several liability shall not apply to that portion of economic damages in excess of $1 million.

For any defendant under subparagraph 2., subparagraph 3., or subparagraph 4., the amount of economic damages calculated under joint and several liability shall be in addition to the amount of economic and noneconomic damages already apportioned to that defendant based on that defendant's percentage of fault.

(b)  Where a plaintiff is found to be without fault, the following shall apply:

1.  Any defendant found less than 10 percent at fault shall not be subject to joint and several liability.

2.  For any defendant found at least 10 percent but less than 25 percent at fault, joint and several liability shall not apply to that portion of economic damages in excess of $500,000.

3.  For any defendant found at least 25 percent but not more than 50 percent at fault, joint and several liability shall not apply to that portion of economic damages in excess of $1 million.

4.  For any defendant found more than 50 percent at fault, joint and several liability shall not apply to that portion of economic damages in excess of $2 million.

For any defendant under subparagraph 2., subparagraph 3., or subparagraph 4., the amount of economic damages calculated under joint and several liability shall be in addition to the amount of economic and noneconomic damages already apportioned to that defendant based on that defendant's percentage of fault.

(c)  With respect to any defendant whose percentage of fault is less than the fault of a particular plaintiff, the doctrine of joint and several liability shall not apply to any damages imposed against the defendant.

(d)  In order to allocate any or all fault to a nonparty, a defendant must affirmatively plead the fault of a nonparty and, absent a showing of good cause, identify the nonparty, if known, or describe the nonparty as specifically as practicable, either by motion or in the initial responsive pleading when defenses are first presented, subject to amendment any time before trial in accordance with the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.

(e)  In order to allocate any or all fault to a nonparty and include the named or unnamed nonparty on the verdict form for purposes of apportioning damages, a defendant must prove at trial, by a preponderance of the evidence, the fault of the nonparty in causing the plaintiff's injuries.

(4)  APPLICABILITY.--

(a)  This section applies to negligence cases. For purposes of this section, "negligence cases" includes, but is not limited to, civil actions for damages based upon theories of negligence, strict liability, products liability, professional malpractice whether couched in terms of contract or tort, or breach of warranty and like theories. In determining whether a case falls within the term "negligence cases," the court shall look to the substance of the action and not the conclusory terms used by the parties.

(b)  This section does not apply to any action brought by any person to recover actual economic damages resulting from pollution, to any action based upon an intentional tort, or to any cause of action as to which application of the doctrine of joint and several liability is specifically provided by chapter 403, chapter 498, 2chapter 517, 2chapter 542, or 2chapter 895.

3(5)  Notwithstanding anything in law to the contrary, in an action for damages for personal injury or wrongful death arising out of medical malpractice, whether in contract or tort, when an apportionment of damages pursuant to this section is attributed to a teaching hospital as defined in s. 408.07, the court shall enter judgment against the teaching hospital on the basis of such party's percentage of fault and not on the basis of the doctrine of joint and several liability.

History.--ss. 60, 65, ch. 86-160; s. 5, ch. 87-50; s. 79, ch. 88-1; s. 43, ch. 88-277; s. 1, ch. 88-335; s. 38, ch. 91-110; s. 104, ch. 92-33; s. 27, ch. 99-225.

1Note.--Section 34, ch. 99-225, provides that "[i]t is the intent of this act and the Legislature to accord the utmost comity and respect to the constitutional prerogatives of Florida's judiciary, and nothing in this act should be construed as any effort to impinge upon those prerogatives. To that end, should any court of competent jurisdiction enter a final judgment concluding or declaring that any provision of this act improperly encroaches upon the authority of the Florida Supreme Court to determine the rules of practice and procedure in Florida courts, the Legislature hereby declares its intent that any such provision be construed as a request for rule change pursuant to s. 2, Art. 5 of the State Constitution and not as a mandatory legislative directive."

2Note.--Contains no readily apparent specific reference to joint and several liability.

3Note.--Also published at s. 766.112(1).

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