The sunny climate may be one of Florida’s most enduring assets, but unfair laws and courts are storm clouds on Florida’s horizon.
This is a reasonable conclusion from the findings of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s newly released 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey ranking the 50 states on their lawsuit systems.

For the fourth consecutive time, the Sunshine State sits in the bottom ten, 44th out of 50.

Why is a state with so much going for it bad when it comes to lawsuits?


First, Florida is a plaintiffs’ lawyers’ haven.

Just drive a few miles down Interstate 95 or just about anywhere, and you are bombarded with personal injury trial lawyer ads on billboards, buses, taxis and even radio.

Like sharks drawn to an injured fish, lots of plaintiffs’ lawyers mean lots of lawsuits.

A big reason why so many personal injury trial lawyers hang out their shingle here is our lopsided courts, which often favor plaintiffs’ lawyers over common sense.

Take the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling last year striking down the state’s $1 million cap on non-economic damages in some medical malpractice lawsuits.

This is the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive beyond the actual medical costs.

The Court’s decision eliminated a vital tool to curb runaway medical malpractice insurance costs for doctors. Parts of Florida, particularly South Florida, have some of the highest medical liability costs in the nation. It can also cause doctors to perform more, costlier and sometimes unnecessary medical tests to avoid litigation.

And why do the Florida courts block reforms? Simple — the Florida plaintiffs’ bar.


Plaintiffs’ lawyers have a monopoly on how judges are selected to both the Supreme Court and courts of appeal. Even at the trial courts where judges are elected, plaintiffs’ lawyer campaign contributions carry many to the bench.

Of course, the symbiotic relationship between judges and trial lawyers is just one factor affecting the lawsuit system. Another is the Legislature, and on this front Florida has made progress. But with the state’s low ranking, more is needed.

And Tallahassee should start by addressing “bad faith” lawsuits — a legal loophole that allows for two lawsuits for every alleged infraction: one against the defendant and a second against the defendant’s insurance company.

“Bad faith” lawsuits are routinely brought against insurers for any sort of alleged delay in resolving a claim, even when an insurer settles quickly for the maximum amount.

“Bad faith” lawsuits allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to game the system and get many times the amount of the cost of a car accident, for example.

Even with one of the fastest job-creating records in the country, Florida must still create more than 2 million jobs over the next 15 years.

And a broken lawsuit system threatens this.