Florida Supreme Court Switches to Daubert Standard

The Florida Supreme Court has reversed its position on the standard for expert testimony, adopting the Daubert standard, and reversing its previous decision to keep Frye. The majority held in a per curiam opinion:

We now recede from the Court’s prior decision not to adopt the Legislature’s Daubert amendments to the Evidence Code and to retain the Frye standard. As Justice Polston has explained, the “grave constitutional concerns” raised by those who oppose the amendments to the Code appear unfounded…

The change arises from an underlying case involving an $8 million personal injury verdict in DeLisle v. Crane, 258 So. 3d 1219, 1228-30 (Fla. 2018). In that case, the defendants challenged the admission of expert testimony. The Supreme Court ruled that expert testimony was properly admitted and shouldn’t have been excluded by the district court because medical causation testimony wasn’t new or novel and wasn’t subject to Frye analysis.

The Florida Supreme Court makes the sunshine state the latest to adopt the more rigorous Daubert standard that’s been applied in federal court for decades. There are 37 states that use the Daubert standard, which provides a five-prong test to determine the scientific validity of expert witness testimony. The bar is set higher for experts, who must attend a hearing before they’re permitted to testify. Under Frye, experts are allowed to testify based on their opinion on new or novel scientific techniques and general acceptance.

Florida’s Legislature enacted the Daubert standard in 2013; however, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that separation of powers invalidated that action, reasoning that only the Court had the power to make it.

The issue has divided the Florida Supreme Court, as noted by the three separate opinions that accompany the per curiam majority.

Read more at ForensisGroup.