TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed 33 bills into law this month, and one allows victims of terrorism to recover legal fees and damages.
HB 65 provides a civil remedy for terrorism, providing at least $1,000 in damages and covering attorney fees to those who are victims. First-term Rep. Jason Fischer, a Republican from Jacksonville, was the author of the bill.
Not only does the bill provide funding for victims, but those who commit acts of terror are given no recourse under the law.
The law states “the defendant is entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and court costs in the trial and appellate courts upon a finding that the claimant raised a claim that was without support in fact or law.”
According to the House of Representatives summary of the bill, "there is no cause of action in common law or current statutory law that is specific to terrorism. There are, however, causes of action for related acts. Common law allows a victim to sue, for example, for battery or intentional infliction of emotional distress; and statutory law allows an action for wrongful death. In most tort actions, an injured person may recover damages, but not attorney's fees.’’
The analysis also says the statute of limitations for this law stands at four years for a common-law tort action and two years for a wrongful death. The bill does not appear to have any fiscal impact on local or state governments, according to the analysis.
The law takes effect July 1.
Scott also signed two bills that created a trust fund within the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity with money recovered from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“I’m proud to sign this legislation today which immediately makes $300 million available to benefit communities in the Panhandle and help ensure their continued economic growth," Scott said in a news release. "In 2010, our beautiful beaches were devastated by the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," Scott said in a news release. "While the surrounding communities have worked hard to recover, this funding will allow them to make critical local investments and continue our efforts to market the state.”