In the days leading up to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing tort reform and bad-faith insurance claim legislation (HB 837), designed to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits involving insurance and personal injury claims, litigants flooded Florida clerks of court with new civil claims, including the Osceola County Clerk of Circuit Court & Comptroller’s Office. Osceola’s Clerk, Kelvin Soto Esq., made a statement regarding the rush of claims made prior to the governor’s signing, which took place on Friday.

Over the last several days, my office has processed an unprecedented number of circuit civil cases related to auto and other negligence claims in response to the legislature’s passage of HB 837. 

Beginning March 17, 2023, attorneys from across Florida began filing cases in anticipation of the Governor’s approval of the bill, which took effect Friday, March 24, 2023. As a result, my office received more than seven times the anticipated number of circuit civil cases we would expect for March. 

Our office actively monitors the legislative process and anticipated the passage of HB 837. As such, we nimbly deployed staff to ensure that we could stay within state mandated timeliness requirements for the processing of new cases. As of today, I’m proud to share that 99 percent of these cases were completed within those guidelines. 

This was only possible due to the hard work undertaken by this Administration to modernize personnel management, prioritize training, and our commitment to a robust recruitment process; this has enabled a more agile workforce that can more easily address changing needs made apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This in turn allowed us to benefit from our cross-training efforts, permitting deputy clerks to learn new competencies and to provide opportunities for professional growth. These efforts reduced the backlog in half by the end of the weekend. While we still have some outstanding cases to process, we have confidence that they will be complete before the week’s end. 

Moving forward, we are fully prepared to address the proportionate increase in subsequent filings. We are equipped to manage these increases without any hindrance to our customers, maintaining the high level of customer care and service our constituents have come to expect. 

Kelvin Soto, Esq.

Clerk of Circuit Court & County Comptroller , Osceola County