WASHINGTON, DC—Florida’s lawsuit climate remains among the worst in the country, according to Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States, a new study released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, ranks Florida 42nd out of 50 states for legal fairness. Respondents mentioned Miami/Dade County as one of the worst court systems in the nation, tied for 10th.
The survey of 1,482 corporate lawyers also finds that two-thirds, or 67%, of respondents say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their business—up 10% from just three years ago. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive via telephone and online from October 2009 to January 2010.
“At nearly 12%, Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Yet, the state’s poor legal climate is negatively impacting its economic environment by discouraging new businesses and new jobs,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “Florida needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.”
This year’s survey is the eighth such ranking of the 50 state lawsuit climates since 2002. Respondents included general counsels and senior attorneys or executives in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million.
Florida’s litigation climate can be attributed in large part to its notorious reputation for exorbitant jury awards and frivolous slip-and-fall lawsuits.
Rickard congratulated Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for working to improve the state’s legal climate by endorsing an attorney general “sunshine” bill this legislative session. The Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting Act, SB 712 by Sen. John Thrasher/HB 437 by Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, would promote transparency and accountability in the awarding of contingency fee contracts by the AG’s office to outside legal counsel.
ILR also announced a new national advertising campaign called “Jobs, Not Lawsuits,” which will include movie trailers to be shown on more than 300 movie screens throughout the country. The two-minute trailers feature the stories of small businesses that were the subject of costly lawsuits that had a material impact on their companies.
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.