Uncertain Future for the Same-Specialty Law in Florida

December 17, 2013

Florida statute, § 766.102(12) (2012), lays down a strict same-specialty requirement for expert witnesses supporting medical malpractice allegations. Specifically, it provides that

“If a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 or a dentist licensed under chapter 466 is the party against whom, or on whose behalf, expert testimony about the prevailing professional standard of care is offered, the expert witness must be licensed under chapter 458, chapter 459, or chapter 466 or possess a valid expert witness certificate issued under s. 458.3175, s. 459.0066, or s. 466.005.”

The Florida Bar Code and Rules of Evidence Committee recommended the Florida Supreme Court to adopt this statutory provision “as a rule of procedure to the extent that it is procedural.”

The Board of Governors (the governing body for the State University System) recommended the Court to reject the Committee’s proposal “on the grounds that the provision is unconstitutional, will have a chilling effect on the ability to obtain expert witnesses, and is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”

The Court declined to follow the Committee’s recommendation due to the concerns raised. See here. The Court had another good reason for declining to adopt this recommendation: the provision in question is substantive rather than procedural. See here.

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