Have you noticed an influx of hearings in Florida to add punitive damages to complaints lately? Here’s why: Asserting a punitive damages claim is a strategy often utilized by plaintiffs to obtain financial discovery from commercial defendants to which they would otherwise not be entitled. The Florida Supreme Court amended Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.130 regarding punitive damages in January of this year, and the changes will take effect on April 1, 2022. With the amended rule, there will be fewer appellate hurdles in place, allowing for an immediate (interlocutory) appeal of nonfinal orders granting or denying a motion for leave to amend a complaint to assert punitive damages.
Before this recent amendment, a defendant in Florida could not immediately appeal an order granting a motion for leave to assert a claim for punitive damages because the only choice was a petition for writ of certiorari, which limited the review to procedural grounds.