The thousands of legal actions filed in March by trial attorneys trying to avoid the consequences imposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ tort reform package may have been in vain if a state judge’s ruling is upheld on appeal.

Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Ann Leigh Gaylor Moe ruled in a 40-page opinion last month that the new statute applies retroactively to lawsuits filed before HB 837’s effective date because the changes it made were procedural.

“If the statute is substantive and there is a clear expression from the Legislature that retroactive application was intended, then the court will examine whether the Florida Constitution prohibits retroactive application,” wrote Moe in her May 19 decision. “If the statute is not substantive, and instead is either procedural remedial (or a combination of both), then the constitutional reasons for caution in applying the new law to pending cases does not apply.”

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