In this week’s episode, Grace and Liel dissect the recent Florida Tort Reform bill. They delve into how this will impact law firms in Florida and the murky waters of insurance savings that supposedly “benefit everyone,” but let’s be real, insurance companies always come out on top.
But wait, there’s more legal drama! Johnson & Johnson’s offer to settle talcum powder lawsuits for a paltry $9 billion has law firms questioning the sincerity of their apologies. With over 60,000 cases to settle, that offer is like trying to buy a mansion with couch cushion change.
In a refreshing turn of events, Grace and Liel offer up some sage advice on how mastermind groups can serve as invaluable partners in your law firm growth strategy. These groups provide support in navigating tough times, uncharted territories, and new unreasonable laws while also allowing you to share insights and experiences with fellow lawyers.
And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, this episode takes an unexpected detour into the world of Formula One. Who says legal podcasts can’t be thrilling?
Resources mentioned in our episode:
- Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Comprehensive Legal Reforms into Law
- Johnson & Johnson offers to pay $8.9 billion to settle talcum powder lawsuits
- The Power of Masterminds
Enjoy the show? Subscribe and leave us a review! Don’t forget to send us your questions and comments at email@example.com.
Episode notes powered by ChatGPT.
Liel: [00:00:00] On March 24th of 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed into law HB 837, a sweeping tort reform bill that overhauls the state’s litigation landscape. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and author of Beyond Se Habla Español How Lawyers Win the Hispanic Market. And this is in Camera podcast, where, as far as we can tell, HB 837 provides no real benefit to anyone except for insurance companies. Welcome to In-camera Podcast, Private Legal Marketing Conversations. Grace. Welcome back. So nice to see you. How have you been?
Grace: [00:01:06] Good. How about you Liel? We’re doing all right over here.
Liel: [00:01:09] That’s good. Listen, I’m glad to hear. And everything around here is being okay. You know, busy. And as we are recording this episode, we’re already in April. Actually, by the time this episode comes out, Mass Torts made Perfect Spring Edition would already be behind us. And it’s quite exciting to see that, particularly on a day that we have a lot to talk about mass torts and just legislation and changes and updates that have been around the legal world. Um, we just happen to have so much to cover, but why don’t we start with a little recap on Formula One? Grace I have not had had chance and I know this is not the Forum, but I cannot let this episode go without me asking you, How are you enjoying the season?
Grace: [00:02:04] I want to throw Red Bull out the window. Yeah, fair enough.
Liel: [00:02:08] Fair enough. It’s so unfair, right? It’s so unfair that they have such a powerful car. Like, it’s like.
Grace: [00:02:14] It’s so unfair. Not only that, but honestly, the like, I get the whole restarts from the last, you know, the last sessions that they had, and I like that they did that. And honestly, listening to Fernando Alonso when he was like, Remember Silverstone? I’m like, Here’s right. Here’s this amazing man been mean. He’s 40 plus years old, still racing at the top of his game. Who does that? He’s like, you know, Tom Brady of Yeah.
Liel: [00:02:41] He’s he’s the best thing of the season like hands down. It’s it’s just not just entertaining but is just a breath of fresh air to what’s the monotony of the of the Red Bull dominating era in which we are. Um but I don’t know I think, you know, I understand that you’re, you’re suffering a lot of pain through the Ferrari stumbles because they’re really, they’re really just, you know, Oh, my God.
Grace: [00:03:09] Get it together, man. They can’t get it together. Like, I feel bad.
Liel: [00:03:13] I feel bad for them. I feel bad for them.
Grace: [00:03:16] Like, half the time. It’s like. Leclerc You know, like when he does good, he’s good. But then they screw him on strategy. And then when they’re good on strategy, he has terrible luck. So I’m like, I don’t know anymore what’s going on with Ferrari. Yeah, I mean, they keep making changes. Making changes. Yeah. Honestly, I think a big part of it and this is part of what we do even in our firm, so you got to listen to your drivers, right? And I think that Ferrari has been this juggernaut forever and ever. They don’t ever listen to their drivers. I mean, they never have and they never will.
Liel: [00:03:48] I think they’re undecisive actually. I think they’re I think they’re lacking that, you know, whether they, they, they are either listening to their drivers and taking their side or they’re actually, you know, listening to the to the strategy team and and I don’t know, it feels kind of like they they’re always like in between both and they take last minute decisions that end up not turning out very well like you know, the pit box both cars at the same time like, you know, that kind of. Yeah, that kind of stuff. That kind of stuff that you don’t see happening in other teams. So yeah, certainly. But but anyhow, I mean, you know, it’s a new management team still kind of like, I guess you can say still getting their toes dipped in the water. But, you know, I think very soon that tolerance, it’s going to run out. And, you know, just before we wrap this up, I mean, it’s nice to start seeing Mercedes, you know, living up to their. Yeah, living up to their name. Up to a certain extent. I mean, you know, at least now they’re they’re they’re starting to see more to see more solid with a car that it’s a little bit more competitive than Aston at least Aston.
Liel: [00:04:59] Right. Um, but still surprising. Yeah. But still lagging. Yeah, actually. Yeah. Because it was, I mean, you know, everybody thought that they were not going to make any, any improvements until at least Silverstone. Like, how were they going to be able to get the car performance to so drastically change. And yet here we are. So you know it’s been full of surprises and I’m yeah, I’ve just felt it was important to touch on that. And so sorry for everyone who doesn’t care a bit about this and they just spend their last three minutes hearing us talk about it. But Grace, here is the good news is that there’s quite a bit to talk about. And the reality is that not all of it is actually good news. Some of it is actually quite disturbing and concerning. And I guess one of the things that has kind of like taken place over the past couple of weeks since we’ve last had a conversation is the Florida tort reform. And so grace for those who’ve not necessarily been paying a lot of attention, what’s been happening in Florida, Can you just give us a quick rundown of what this reform is about? An and why do we even care?
Grace: [00:06:08] So, you know, there’s a lot of legalese, unfortunately, that’s going into this tort reform. But the overarching concepts are, you know, what to know and why is this tort reform? What is doing is it changes the concepts of negligence in terms of the way that they get sued, right? People and personal property, including personal injury. And they’re even looking into the acts of the person that was on that property to potentially reduce the amount of money that you would be owing them for getting hurt on your property as an example. So what it is, is it was actually passed on March 24th, 2023. So very, very recently Florida’s governor signed it’s called HB 837. Nobody really cares, but that’s what it’s called into law. What this the terms that they’re using is. This is passing extensive tort reform measures pertaining to civil litigation. So attorneys. Okay. Um, one of the first things and one of the most important things is the statute of limitations. So many of you know what that is. Obviously, for those of you that don’t, it’s very basic. It’s how long from the date of the incident to when you’re allowed to actually continue to file after that time, you can’t file for that case. So it went from four years to two years. That is number one. So you no longer have a four year span from the date of the incident. It’s minimized and reduced to two years first and foremost. Secondly, um, there’s what they call negligent security.
Liel: [00:07:46] Which which grades that. Sorry. No, just want to say that that actually puts Florida in line with several other states that actually have a two year statute of limitations. So I think, you know, they’re kind of like we’re running a little bit behind to where many other states have transitioned already. And obviously, you know.
Grace: [00:08:06] Yeah, it means it causes a lot of problems for people because like you said, what if you develop a problem after the fact and now you no longer have a way to get compensation for an injury that you deserve compensation on? So it it is a big problem for a lot of PI attorneys and PI firms in Florida. You know this and it was just a sweeping tort reform that was just signed into bill and just immediately went through, which doesn’t generally happen with bills if people know how that works. So it’s it’s kind of surprising in that respect and not so much on other respects because just like you said, I think that they’re falling more in line now with other states, including what the next point of this is, and that is the negligence aspect. Now, when Florida, um, you know, like if you’re in a car accident, it’s a no fault state which what that means is, you know, it’s pure, it’s called pure comparative fault. So basically, whoever it is that’s at fault, that’s, you know, you just figure out who’s at fault and that’s it. Now, in Texas, as a matter of fact, which is interesting because I know that’s where you are, Liel. I’ve dealt with motor vehicle accidents. And as a matter of fact, in Texas, you if you are more than X percent at fault, then you are you’re do nothing like in the car accident from the insurance company, from anybody. So Florida has now changed it from pure comparative fault to what they call modified comparative, which means if a plaintiff or a person that’s suing is more than 50% at fault, there’s no recovery. So the jury will have to find them, you know, guilty for more than 50% or 50% more at fault, 50% or more at fault for the injury or the accident.
Grace: [00:09:50] So that that does change the game quite a bit. Um, you know, in a way, I kind of understand why it’s going that direction, right? Because if somebody is more at fault for an accident than someone else, shouldn’t they not get compensated often? So that’s kind of the reason I as I see it and from the information that I’m able to glean as to why they did this right, they want to limit the liability. They want to increase the in their minds, increase the businesses coming to Florida. Right. So that they can limit premises liability. Another thing which has to do with slip and falls and people’s locations, right? So if you own a business in Florida and somebody falls and you had all these things in place like security cameras, you know, you had signs. Well, I mean, should you be at fault? That’s the that’s the question. This is now answering you as a business now have a little bit of a more protection as a business that if you had certain things in place that you really could, you could still be sued, but you won’t necessarily have to pay out or you will have to pay out if you’re found negligent. But if you’re not found negligent, then why should you have to pay if they just didn’t follow signs or other things that you put in place? So it’s it’s an interesting thing. Um, particularly on the medical expenses like you were talking about. I don’t know if you want to even mention about that, but that’s probably a good component to start from.
Liel: [00:11:23] Yeah. Look, I mean, overall, as you’re saying, Grace, I mean everything that has to do with statutes of limitation, comparative negligence, obviously narrow further down the possibilities of actually, um, having eligibility to file claims. So obviously they’re kind of like narrowing down the window for people that can actually file claims, making it harder. Like in plain vocabulary, there’s just, you know, this is 100% a law that is here to benefit insurance companies and nobody else like, it’s just as simple as that. Now, one thing that I think it’s even more significant is all of. The limitations that are being put up on medical treatments. Right. Whereas now lawyers need to it is, uh, it needs to be disclosed whether lawyers are referring doctors, clients to doctors and the limitations also in which treatments doctors can actually provide to the patients. And, you know, I believe it’s called a fee schedule and other components to it that basically do not have the patient’s interest in mind, but rather kind of like ensuring that a very cost preventive process is being followed just to ensure that insurance companies can continue paying the least amount possible for damages to victims. And that’s so upsetting. It’s just it’s just simply upsetting, right? Because I’ve been you know, in preparing for this podcast, I was hearing a surgeons and doctors as well and other doctors also just talking about the implications of this law. But they’ve just pointed out very, very specific examples in which MRIs are necessary from a very early stage on dealing with a patient where after completing the MRI, they can actually establish that preventing a preventive surgery can save a patient from paralysis, for instance. And in in these new guidelines and these new process, the MRI would not be possible to be completed, uh, early at an early stage, which could potentially lead to someone who’s been injured to actually developing a permanent paralysis just because just because of the, you know, of whatever waiting time period that now it requires to get an actual MRI. And so that’s just sad and upsetting.
Grace: [00:14:03] No, I mean, it’s pretty bad, right? I mean, they even took away the attorney client privilege for disclosing the doctors that you’re referring to. So that’s that’s actually a pretty big deal. I mean, like they’re basically saying that, you know, I can ask who you sent or who you referred the client to and I can find out. And that has nothing to do with attorney client privilege, which, I mean, isn’t everything supposed to be privileged between the client and the attorney? So that that just seems like they just picking apart the plaintiff’s attorneys and limiting their ability to really in the best way possible, take care of their clients. You know, they’re they’re saying that it’s because they’re they’re claiming that it’s because they they’re removing the the concept or the ability to inflate medical bills. Right. But obviously, on the flip side, like you just said, well, doesn’t that prevent them from getting the earliest and quickest treatments and care possible at the outset? So then aren’t you actually creating a problem down the line that you may end up having to pay more out as an insurance company than if you were to take care of them from the very beginning? But this is, of course, kind of, in my opinion, under the same concept of insurance claims. And I know they’re not legally allowed to do this, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again where insurance companies just outright reject the claim immediately as their first step in standard operating procedure. And then if you reapply for that claim as an insurance, you know, to the words the insurance company, then they might review it. But I’ve seen it happen. It does happen. And I don’t think that this is this is going to make it even worse.
Liel: [00:15:46] Yeah. And so, Grace, as a result of this law coming into effect, what happened in Florida is like literally the day before it became, uh, you know, passed into law, the amount of claims that got filed just clogged the entire, uh, court system in Florida right now, as you would expect. So obviously, you know, there’s going to be delays now. It’s going to be quite a period of time while everything here now runs its course. But can you imagine, like how much the trucking industry, for instance, might have lobbied on this on this law, and to put all this burden into the the the the court system of the state just to be able to pass this, you know, I guess it just comes to to show a little bit. Grace going back to what you were saying is where legislation is heading to a bigger scale now, this is what we’re seeing in Florida could very likely start also transitioning into into other states. One one thing that we’ve usually always use here as the antidote to how to be prepared for these type of incidents and to be able to better weather out these adaptation periods are always diversification. Right?
Grace: [00:17:22] We always say that, right? You don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket. Don’t put all your practice area eggs in one basket either, because things like this can happen constantly. So you need to diversify your practice, diversify your marketing, spend, diversify everything you do because yeah, you never know.
Liel: [00:17:40] Yeah. And one of those diversification options that exist out there is mass torts it. It is it is not something that you can certainly know that’s going to go well, but you can also not discount that it will fail right from the get go. So it is 100% an alternative. And I think Grace, you know, one of the really hopeful success stories that that we can just touch in the last few minutes of this conversation is the developing news that have been around Johnson and Johnson, who just now agrees or suggested paying almost $9 billion to settle talcum powder lawsuits. This is after they’ve tried to declare bankruptcy on a invented corporation just not to have to pay this. And so why don’t you tell us a little bit more about what went on here.
Grace: [00:18:47] So, yeah, this I mean, it was insane what happened yesterday. It all went down in the span of a few minutes. They posted this huge article, Johnson and Johnson directly from them saying that they’re going to pay 8.9 billion to settle all talcum powder lawsuits. So. That is this. And it is and was a marketing ploy by Johnson and Johnson to get all the plaintiff’s attorneys and all of the clients of the plaintiff’s attorneys to start yelling and screaming that they want the settlement, that, oh, look, Johnson and Johnson is offering money. So why aren’t you guys going to start settling immediately? So it went. Again within the span of the same day yesterday, it was there was a conversation with the MDL attorneys, the MDL attorneys and other attorneys that are involved in these talcum powder cases, created a united front, spoke to each other and said this is just a marketing ploy by Johnson and Johnson to try and get clients to settle and make them settle quickly. They are not going to accept this. They are going to present a united front and have told Johnson and Johnson that Johnson and Johnson immediately took down not the article, but they took the they took it back. And it’s going now. There’s it went immediately again within the same day it went right back into this day you can’t file any more cases. It reverted within a couple of hours that it was open. The MDL was opened back up for filing cases. Then it was closed back up because this is this was exactly that just a marketing ploy by Johnson and Johnson to try and make people settle for less and have. Pressure from the clients to get this money now because they’ve been waiting so long.
Liel: [00:20:32] As of now, this money is not going to get accepted and they’re still going to fight it. Correct. And why? And why? Why are these good news, Grace? What is the likelihood of this actually turning into more beneficial for the victims and for the law firms representing them?
Grace: [00:20:48] Because this is a low blow. Johnson And Johnson knows what they’re doing when it comes to the amount of money they actually have and the amount of cases that are actually out there. $9 billion barely covers anything. And I’ll tell you why. If you looked at the initial cases that they filed that were filed against them, they settled 34 million, a billion. And in some cases that’s true. Yeah, and that’s true. They they think that and people do forget this. Right. But they think that people are going to be dumb enough to not listen to their lawyers. Right. There’s a reason you hire a lawyer and your lawyer is going to fight for the highest amount of compensation possible. And they know that this is a ploy. They can say that to the judge and be like, judge, this is why they did this. Not not the real reason that they’re claiming that they want to settle these and be done with it. No, Look at the amount of cases that they settled before and how much those were worth. Now, you’re telling me right now you’re trying to tell me that 100,000 plus, you know, probably who knows how many cases are out there?
Liel: [00:21:46] 60,000 cases.
Grace: [00:21:48] And that’s that’s what’s filed. So imagine what’s been on what’s on filed because of the stay for the last year or two years that they were in this Texas Two-Step bankruptcy situation. So the stay is back on. So that’s 60,000 cases that they’re trying to claim That’s all they want to settle. And for $9 billion, not going to happen. That is not the right way to treat this. And they’re just trying to get rid of their liability again.
Liel: [00:22:13] Yeah. Yeah. But obviously, Grace, this, you know, looking at the full picture, zooming out, having moved from, as you’re saying, the two step bankruptcy ploy to now starting to talk about a potential settlement to now, you know, plaintiffs being in a position where they can ask for more. It’s a big full circle. And it’s so important Right. To think about I mean, I’m just thinking here in this podcast how long we’ve been talking about talcum powder and pretty much since the first year that we’ve been recording this podcast that it’s now four years we’ve been actually talking about this particular mass tort. And so it’s just such a good demonstration of just. How mass tort work.
Grace: [00:23:02] Path of litigation is varied and wide and different by case type, manufacturer case type injury. I mean so many things that go into it. But yeah, it’s interesting to see this so many years later now.
Liel: [00:23:15] Absolutely. It’s Grace. It absolutely is. Well, thank you so much for the insights. Thank you for giving us an update on what’s been happening here in talcum powder and why don’t we try to wrap this up with a few takeaways?
Grace: [00:23:29] Yeah. So I think my first takeaway is going to be about diversifying your practice. I mean, I know it’s something that we constantly talk about and you should diversify your practice into things that you understand, know and feel like it can benefit your firm by one diversifying and two, because it’s something you believe in. You know, as a lawyer, those are the things you want to do anyway. So, you know, if it’s a daycare practice, right, where you, you know, negligence at daycares. I’ve heard that, too. Right. And not everybody can be the the trucking accident guru of Atlanta. But you can niche it and say, hey, I’m going to be the best at this and taking care of people with, you know, Tbis or traumatic brain injuries. So diversify your practice just like we constantly tell you to diversify your marketing. Because anytime something like this happens, like Florida tort reform, it can affect your business so significantly that it might end up closing you. So look out there.
Liel: [00:24:27] Yeah, I really like how you frame that Grace niching, like niching down to some particular area where you can really develop an expertise and really. Kind of like. Beat the competition, but at the same time diversifying from the standpoint that you’re not just relying on what is it that you’re doing internally in your practice to generate cases and to generate revenues, but you’re also putting out other streams for revenues that are a little bit more independent to what you do. So I really think that is great. I think Grace, a good takeaway here is I’m going to say the joint mastermind groups, right? They’re so powerful from the standpoint that you can really hear firsthand from people who are probably going through the challenges that you may be facing right now in your journey of running your law firm. But at the same time, also be very well aware in an open and safe place to hear how other firms who are going through some of the same challenges that you’re going right now. For instance, just like we’ve talked about the Florida tort reform law. What are they doing about it? Right. How they’re navigating through this? I think it’s extremely valuable to have this type of network where you can show more vulnerability and at the same time have people who at different levels of the in the industry can actually share their insights and help figuring out your strategy. So I think it’s not just on the bad times that you want to be on a mastermind. I think the way that mastermind groups work is that you want to be able to give as much as you take for it to really be a beneficial community. But obviously during these times when things may seem to be a little bit more difficult, it’s a great time to be there. And the last takeaway, Grace, Unless you want to add something else to what I’ve just said. No, I think that’s good.
Grace: [00:26:29] I think you’re right. I mean, you should be a part of a group network. We constantly talk about that. You know, we’re we’re open source information. If you have questions about things, you know, that have to do with legal marketing, you know, ask Liel, you know, if you have be a part of a mastermind because that is a safe place for you to go. But don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you do know. I mean, even if you’re just listening to this podcast and you have a question about something that we’ve discussed, reach out. We are more than happy to answer your questions. That’s all I wanted to add.
Liel: [00:26:59] Absolutely. Grace. Grace. Reach out. Take away number three, and we’ll do our best. We don’t have all the answers, but we’ll try to get them for you or point you out to a better source than us. So thanks so much. Yeah, hold tight until we have our next conversation, which is going to be after Mass tort made perfect. So I’m really looking forward to the insights that you bring.
Grace: [00:27:24] Speak then. All right. Thank you Liel. Take care. Bye.
Liel: [00:27:30] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers. Leave us a review and.
Liel: [00:27:35] Send us your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next week.