Individual States 

FLORIDA

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

Express assumption of risk is a contractual concept. Implied assumption of risk is merged with comparative fault. Assumption of risk may be a defense that reduces damages in strict liability or negligence actions if it constitutes a substantial proximate cause of the injury, but not in the sense of a failure to discover a defect, or to guard against the possibility of its existence. Blackburn v. Dorta, 348 So. 2d 287 (Fla. 1977) .

CAPS ON NONECONOMIC DAMAGES

There are no exclusive Products Liability statutes under this category.

COLLATERAL SOURCE RULE

The court shall reduce the award by benefits paid or available from all collateral sources, except those for which a subrogation right exists. The reduction shall be offset by the amount paid by or on behalf of the claimant to secure the right to the benefit (such as insurance premiums). However, there is no offset for unearned collateral source benefits which are dependant upon future employment. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.76

COMPARATIVE FAULT

Comparative fault does not bar recovery, but proportionately diminishes the economic and noneconomic damages awarded. It also applies to actions in negligence, strict liability, and products liability whether couched in terms of contract or tort, or breach of warranty. In addition, plaintiff's comparative negligence does not diminish punitive damage awards. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.81 .

ECONOMIC LOSS

The economic loss rule bars claims in tort where there is no personal injury or damage to "other property." Casa Clara Condo. Ass'n v. Charley Toppino & Sons, Inc., 620 So.2d 1244 (Fla.1993) .

The economic loss doctrine is primarily intended to limit actions in product liability cases. An exception has been carved out for tort actions, which are independent of any contractual breach. Thus, the economic loss rule does not apply to actions based on fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation. Moransais v. Heathman, 744 So.2d 973 (1999) .

JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

Judgment shall be entered against each party on the basis of their percentage of fault, except that defendants may be jointly and severally liable for economic damages according to the following rules:

Where a plaintiff is partially at fault:

(1) any defendant with 10 percent or less fault shall not be subject to joint and several liability; (2) any defendant with fault greater than 10 percent but less than 25 percent shall only be jointly and severally liable for up to $200,000; (3) any defendant with at least 25 percent but not more than 50 percent fault shall only be jointly and severally liable for up to $500,000; and (4) any defendant with more than 50 percent shall only be jointly and severally liable for up to $1,000,000.

Where a plaintiff is not at fault:

(1) any defendant with 10 percent or less fault shall never be subject to joint and several liability; (2) any defendant with fault greater than 10 percent but less than 25 percent shall only be jointly and severally liable for up to $500,000; (3) any defendant with at least 25 percent but not more than 50 percent fault shall only be jointly and severally liable for up to $1,000,000; and (4) any defendant with more than 50 percent shall only be jointly and severally liable for up to $2,000,000.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

Punitive damages will only be awarded if the fact finder determines by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence, and that claimant has a reasonable basis for recovery. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.72 .

Punitive damages are allowed in wrongful death actions. Martin v. United Security Serv., Inc., 314 So. 2d 765 (Fla. 1975) .

In general, punitive damages may not exceed the greater of three times compensatory damages or $500,000. However, if the court determines that the wrongful conduct was motivated solely by unreasonable financial gain, and the conduct was known to be unreasonably dangerous and likely to cause injury, then punitive damages may not exceed the greater of four times compensatory damages or $2,000,000. Additionally, if the fact finder determines that the wrongful conduct was done with the specific intent to harm the claimant, and did in fact harm the claimant, then there will be no cap on punitive damages. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.73(1) .

RIGHT TO CONTRIBUTION

Florida has adopted the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, but modified it so that relative degrees of fault are used in determining pro rata shares. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.31 .

Florida law provides for a nonparty defense, whereby a defendant, subject to certain conditions, may reduce his liability by claiming that some amount of fault is attributable to a person who is not a party to the lawsuit. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.81 (3)(d) and (3)(e); Fabre v. Marin, 623 So. 2d 1182 (Fla. 1993) .

SPECIAL DEFENSES

There is a rebuttable presumption that products are not defective and the manufacturer or seller is not liable if, at the time of sale: (1) the product complied with federal or state codes, regulations, and standards relevant to the event causing injury; (2) the codes were designed to prevent that kind of harm; and (3) compliance with the codes is required as a condition for selling the product. However, there is also a rebuttable presumption that a product is defective if the same three conditions exist and the product failed to comply with the codes, regulations, or standards. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.1256 .

Product misuse or alteration is a defense that may bar recovery in a strict liability action. High v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 610 So. 2d 1259 (Fla. 1992) .

The "military contractor" defense will bar plaintiff recovery in a strict liability action. Hercules, Inc. v. United States, 516 U.S. 417 (1996) .

STATUTES OF LIMITATION

Actions must be brought within four years for claims based on: (1) negligence; (2) intentional torts (3) personal injury resulting from the design, manufacture, distribution, or sale of personal property; (4) legal or equitable actions on a contract, obligation, or liability not founded on a written instrument; (5) any action not specifically provided for in this statute. Fla. Stat. Ann. §95.11 .

Actions must be brought within two years for claims based on wrongful death. Fla. Stat. Ann. §95.11 .

STATUTES OF REPOSE

Any product liability action, including personal injury and wrongful death caused by a product, may not be brought more than:
(1) Twelve years from delivery for products with an expected useful life of ten years;
(2) Twenty years from delivery for commercial aircraft, vessels weighing more than 100 gross tons, commercial railroad equipment, and improvements to real property such as escalators and elevators.

However, the repose period may be longer if:
(1) extended by a specific warranty;
(2) the injury did not manifest itself until after the repose period expired; or
(3) the manufacturer knew of the defect and took affirmative steps to conceal it. Fla. Stat. Ann. §95.031(2) .

Any action for fraud under a product liability action, may not be brought more than twelve years after the alleged fraud occurred. Fla. Stat. Ann. §95.031(2) (a).

STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT

Where future economic losses exceed $250,000, the excess can be paid by lump-sum payment with future economic losses and expenses reduced, or if either party requests, the court shall, unless manifest injustice would result, order periodic payments of the amount in excess of $250,000. Fla. Stat. Ann. §768.78 .