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Florida Supreme Court finds medical malpractice arbitration agreement void as against public policy

On December 22, 2016, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Hernandez v. Crespo, No. SC15-67, that a medical malpractice arbitration agreement between the respondent/plaintiff and the petitioner/defendant was void as against public policy because it excluded provisions of the Medical Malpractice Act in a way that included only the statutory provisions from the Act that were favorable to the defendant. The Court pointed out that the agreement at issue severely limited the benefits provided in exchange for giving up the right to a jury trial. The Court noted six major deviations from the statute: (1) the agreement did not require a concession of the defendant's liability; (2) the agreement did not guarantee independent arbitrators or that one arbitrator be an administrative law judge ; (3) the agreement did not provide that the defendant would bear the costs of arbitration; (4) the agreement did not require the payment of interest on damages; (5) the agreement did not require joint and several liability of defendants; and (6) the agreement did not include the right to appeal.

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