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2014 Florida Statutes
Civil actions to enforce rights.
Civil actions to enforce rights.
429.87 Civil actions to enforce rights.—
(1) Any person or resident whose rights as specified in this part are violated has a cause of action against any adult family-care home, provider, or staff responsible for the violation. The action may be brought by the resident or the resident’s guardian, or by a person or organization acting on behalf of a resident with the consent of the resident or the resident’s guardian, to enforce the right. The action may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce such rights and to recover actual damages, and punitive damages when malicious, wanton, or willful disregard of the rights of others can be shown. Any plaintiff who prevails in any such action is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees, costs of the action, and damages, unless the court finds that the plaintiff has acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose or that there was a complete absence of a justiciable issue of either law or fact. A prevailing defendant is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees pursuant to s. 57.105. The remedies provided in this section are in addition to other legal and administrative remedies available to a resident or to the agency.
(2) To recover attorney’s fees under this section, the following conditions precedent must be met:
(a) Within 120 days after the filing of a responsive pleading or defensive motion to a complaint brought under this section and before trial, the parties or their designated representatives shall meet in mediation to discuss the issues of liability and damages in accordance with this paragraph for the purpose of an early resolution of the matter.
1. Within 60 days after the filing of the responsive pleading or defensive motion, the parties shall:
a. Agree on a mediator. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, the defendant shall immediately notify the court, which shall appoint a mediator within 10 days after such notice.
b. Set a date for mediation.
c. Prepare an order for the court that identifies the mediator, the scheduled date of the mediation, and other terms of the mediation. Absent any disagreement between the parties, the court may issue the order for the mediation submitted by the parties without a hearing.
2. The mediation must be concluded within 120 days after the filing of a responsive pleading or defensive motion. The date may be extended only by agreement of all parties subject to mediation under this subsection.
3. The mediation shall be conducted in the following manner:
a. Each party shall ensure that all persons necessary for complete settlement authority are present at the mediation.
b. Each party shall mediate in good faith.
4. All aspects of the mediation which are not specifically established by this subsection must be conducted according to the rules of practice and procedure adopted by the Supreme Court of this state.
(b) If the parties do not settle the case pursuant to mediation, the last offer of the defendant made at mediation shall be recorded by the mediator in a written report that states the amount of the offer, the date the offer was made in writing, and the date the offer was rejected. If the matter subsequently proceeds to trial under this section and the plaintiff prevails but is awarded an amount in damages, exclusive of attorney’s fees, which is equal to or less than the last offer made by the defendant at mediation, the plaintiff is not entitled to recover any attorney’s fees.
(c) This subsection applies only to claims for liability and damages and does not apply to actions for injunctive relief.
(d) This subsection applies to all causes of action that accrue on or after October 1, 1999.
(3) Discovery of financial information for the purpose of determining the value of punitive damages may not be had unless the plaintiff shows the court by proffer or evidence in the record that a reasonable basis exists to support a claim for punitive damages.
(4) In addition to any other standards for punitive damages, any award of punitive damages must be reasonable in light of the actual harm suffered by the resident and the egregiousness of the conduct that caused the actual harm to the resident.
History.—s. 13, ch. 93-209; s. 13, ch. 98-338; s. 32, ch. 99-225; s. 3, ch. 2006-197.
Note.—Former s. 400.629.