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Politics

Larry Metz Named Florida Chamber's 'Most Valuable Legislator'

June 12, 2013 - 6:00pm

Citing his ultimately successful three-year battle to get Florida to reform its expert witness testimony standards, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has named Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, its "Most Valuable Legislator" of 2013.

The designation was awarded for Metz's sponsorship of HB 7015 (Expert Testimony), a major priority of the business community this legislative session. The bill was signed into law last week by Gov. Rick Scott, to the chagrin of state's plaintiff trial lawyer lobby.

Thanks to the great work of Representative Metz, Floridas expert evidence standards now move into the 21st century and join 20 other states already using a pure Daubert standard a multifaceted test to determine the admissibility of expert testimony, David Hart, the Chamber's executive vice president, said in a statement. Updating Floridas expert evidence standards will help improve on Floridas 41st worst legal climate ranking and will allow Floridas state courts to join the U.S. Supreme Court, all federal courts, and every state in the Southeast in using the Daubert standard.

Under the new law, state courts will only be allowed to admit expert testimony if the judge finds it to be based on scientifically sound principles. Previously, expert witnesses in civil cases were allowed to offer mere subjective opinion (a type of testimony never allowed in criminal trials). Florida has now adopted the federal Daubert standard (named after a 1993 Supreme Court decision), which means experts will only be allowed to testify if they can prove to a judge that their theories or techniques have been tested, have been subject to peer review, have a low rate of error, and have received general acceptance in the scientific community.

With strong leadership for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, many interested parties came together and supported this important legislation, Metz said in a statement. Replacing the antiquated 90-year-old Frye standard with the modern Daubert standard will empower Florida judges to vet expert testimony for reliability and accuracy.

Metz and the Chamber also acknowledged the efforts of Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, who sponsored the bill's Senate version. Richter was named the Chamber's Most Valuable Legislator in 2009.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at 954-235-9116.

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