WASHINGTON, D.C.—Florida’s lawsuit climate is among the worst in the country at number 44 out of 50, representing an all-time low, according to a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). Despite the state legislature’s efforts to improve the state’s legal environment, survey participants cited Miami/Dade County as one of the eight least fair court jurisdictions nationwide.
According to the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, 75 percent of senior company attorneys surveyed said a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including where to locate or expand. That is an 18 percent increase from eight years ago, and an all-time high.
“More business leaders than ever have identified a state’s lawsuit climate as a significant factor in determining their growth and expansion plans,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “A fair court system is of vital significance to Florida’s economic growth.”
Despite progress made by the Florida legislature to improve the state’s court system, the Florida Supreme Court in recent years has negated several key legal reforms. In 2014, it struck down safeguards against runaway noneconomic damages awards in medical malpractice cases. In addition, the Court widened plaintiffs’ lawyers’ ability to manufacture “bad faith” lawsuits against insurers who in good faith attempt to pay a claim. The Court is also in the process of invalidating legislative efforts to keep junk science out of the courts.
“Florida’s legislature faces an uphill climb in trying to stem the state’s litigation epidemic due to resistance from the state’s courts,” said Rickard.
In tandem with the survey, ILR today released 101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems, listing key legal reforms that states can adopt to improve their lawsuit climates. ILR also launched a national media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of a fair and balanced lawsuit system.
Harris Poll, a global polling firm, conducted the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey through telephone and online interviews between March 9 and June 24, 2015. The respondents were more than 1,200 general counsels and senior attorneys or leaders in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million.
ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.