Lawmakers break Florida’s improvement streak in latest ‘Judicial Hellholes’ report
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Allegory of  justice
Lawmakers need to tackle inflated medical damages, deceptive trial lawyer advertising and the property insurance crisis.

For the first time in four years, Florida failed to improve its “judicial hellhole” standing. The holdup? The Florida Legislature.

In the latest edition of its annual Judicial Hellhole Report, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) says the Legislature has done little to mitigate lawsuit abuse in the Sunshine State even after Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Supreme Court have made strides in improving the state’s litigious environment.

ATRA praised the Governor and the courts last year for improving the state’s environment for three years running. Although no Florida jurisdiction made it in the 2021 or 2022 Judicial Hellhole rankings, ATRA named the legislative branch at the top of its watchlist for a second year in a row.

“We applaud the Legislature for enacting reforms during a special session earlier this year to address the ongoing property insurance crisis in the state, but there is still much work to be done to remove the state once and for all from the Judicial Hellholes report,” ATRA President Tiger Joyce said in a statement.

Florida ranked as the worst “Hellhole” in the nation as recently as the group’s 2018 report. It fell to number two in 2019. It fell off the ranking in 2020, landing instead on the watch list. The state as a whole, minus the Legislature, fell off the list in the 2021 report.

Lawmakers need to tackle inflated medical damages, deceptive trial lawyer advertising and the property insurance crisis, according to the 2022 report, released Tuesday.

The Legislature is set to take action on property insurance next week during a Special Session. But personal injury lawyers continue to abuse “letters of protection” as a way to hide the true value of medical damages from jurors, according to the report.

ATRA says each Florida resident loses $812.52 annually because of the litigious tort environment. Additionally, it says the state loses 173,000 jobs each year. Florida could increase its gross product by $17.7 billion if lawmakers fixed lawsuit abuse, ATRA adds.

“Lawsuit abuse and excessive tort costs wipe out billions of dollars of economic activity annually,” Joyce said. “While it may be some perceived deep-pocketed company that gets hit with massive verdicts, it’s unfortunately consumers who pay the price in the form of higher costs on goods and services — and now in the midst of record-high inflation.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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