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Florida Supreme Court declines to adopt legislative amendment narrowing class of qualifying experts in medical negligence cases

On February 16, 2017, in IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE FLORIDA EVIDENCE CODE, No. SC16-181, the Florida Supreme Court declined to adopt a legislative amendment to Fla. Stat. § 766.102(5)(a), requiring a standard-of-care expert witness in a medical negligence action to specialize in the “same specialty” as the health care provider against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered, rather than the “same or similar specialty” requirement that existed under the previous version of the statute. The Court noted that the statutory amendment posed the same concerns raised by another statute the Court had previously declined to adopt, the same-license requirement of § 766.102(12), which the Court concluded limits access to courts and is prejudicial to the administration of justice. In refusing to adopt these amendments, “to the extent they are procedural,” the Florida Supreme Court has asserted its authority under art. V, § 2(a) of the Florida Constitution as the final arbiter of procedural evidentiary rules under Florida law.