On June 17, 2011 Pasco County Judge Stanley Mills declared the neutral evaluation process unconstitutional in an Order denying the insurance companies request to attend neutral evaluation pursuant to Florida Statute 627.7074. Without entering into too extensive of a legal analysis (because there is a days worth of discussion on this topic), Judge Mills evaluated the Statute and what the Statute actually does. He evaluated several flaws in the Statute and in particular, how and by whom the neutral evaluation process is run.
Judge Mills first analyzed the fact that our government is supposed to be clearly divided into three branches, meaning the legislative and executive branches should not have influence over the judicial process. It is an improper invasion into the powers of the courts for the legislature to make a law that interferes with the judicial branches ability to oversee cases. Judge Mills opined that the use of the neutral evaluation process which is run by the Florida Department As companies are putting a big strategy in place, management is beginning to realize that they can begin leveraging throughout the planning cycle rather than at the end. of Financial Services does interfere with the court system for several reasons. 1) The Statute mandates that all neutral evaluation reports are automatically admissible at trial without considering its relevancy, credibility or authenticity and 2) the neutral evaluator acts as a judge in rendering decisions that should be decided by a jury. Even though the report is non-binding, the State of Florida and Department of Financial Services have the sole discretion in the procedural rules that encompass the neutral evaluation program. In doing so, neither the Department of Financial Services, nor the neutral evaluator, have to abide by any formal rules of evidence or procedure. Judge Mills opined that this violates Article I, Section 9 of the Florida Constitution. This could send shockwaves through the sinkhole world. We have no idea what impact this could or will have as of now but, be sure that the insurance company will appeal this issue and the final say will be provided by a higher court soon.