Do lawsuit limitations help or hurt small businesses? It depends on whom you ask

NFIB Florida is launching a statewide radio campaign in support of limiting lawsuits.

Will sweeping legislation to limit lawsuits against insurance companies help or hurt small businesses?

It depends on whom you ask and what advertising you’re listening to.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Florida announced it is launching a statewide radio and digital ad campaign urging the Legislature to pass new laws to protect Florida businesses from lawsuits.

“For decades, trial lawyers have targeted and preyed upon Florida’s small businesses. Now there’s a real effort in Tallahassee to reduce lawsuit abuse and, with your help, we can get it over the finish line,” the ad says.

Viewers watching the digital ads can be connected to a website that explains the legislation and shows them how to contact members.

At a press conference in Tallahassee Monday, NFIB Executive Director Bill Herrle said the radio advertising launched first in Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Tampa.

Herrle, who was accompanied by House bill sponsors Reps. Tommy Gregory and Tom Fabricio, refused to disclose the costs of the advertising campaign. But Herrle said NFIB Florida, which represents roughly 10,000 small businesses in the state, was paying for it entirely.

HB 837 is a sweeping bill that makes changes to how lawsuits are filed and litigated in Florida. It changes Florida’s comparative negligence system from a “pure” comparative negligence system to a “modified” comparative negligence system. The bill eliminates Florida’s one-way attorney fee provisions for insurance cases, a move opponents argue will eliminate the ability for low-income individuals and those with average salaries from being able to sue their insurance companies.

The bill changes policyholders’ ability to sue insurers for failing in their legal obligation to handle claims in good faith by low-balling settlements or improperly denying them.

Herrle, meanwhile, said he became aware over the weekend of another advertising campaign, this one by, opposing the bills. But Herrle said the advertising was “convoluted, confusing and contrived” and suggested the bills are supported by “woke corporations.”

While the digital campaign on the website doesn’t mention any “woke corporations,” the website does include footage of a press conference House Speaker Paul Renner held last month after the House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 12-6 to advance HB 837 to its second — and last — committee of reference.

Renner was joined at the press conference by Gregory and Fabricio, along with a bevy of business groups such as NFIB, Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, among others. includes a link to the Tallahassee press conference along with the headline “Corporate Elites are Coming for our Rights.”

Meanwhile, NFIB’s advertising campaign was launched just as the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee is slated to hear its version of the proposal (SB 236) Tuesday.

Florida Justice Association member and Coral Gables trial lawyer Todd Michaels noted this is the second press conference in as many weeks where House bill sponsors met with business interests to tout the bill, which he describes as the insurance industry’s “absolute fantasy.”

“There is a reason why they have to keep calling press conferences to keep telling everyone what good policy this is — and the reason is it’s really bad policy,” said Michaels, who serves as the statewide association’s secretary.

“They have taken every bad tort measure that has failed for the last 20 years and put it all in one bill. It’s easy to try to turn this into businesses against trial lawyers. But an attack on trial lawyers is an attack on the people we represent, including Florida’s small businesses.”

It’s a sentiment Tampa lawyer Dale Swope shared with members of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee when they discussed the bill Feb. 24. Swope, with the group Taxpayers Against Insurance Bad Faith, told committee members he has specialized in bad faith claims for the last 47 years.

His clients, Swope said, aren’t people who are injured.

“My clients are the small business people who are being sued because their truck hit five, six people in a crosswalk,” he said.

Swope added that the bill puts his clients at risk “to lose his business and every single thing he owns if the insurance company doesn’t act in good faith. When we buy insurance, we buy more than a duty to defend and a duty to indemnify. Our insurance company also owes us a duty to investigate the claims, evaluate the claims, negotiate them and settle and obtain our relief.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Elliott Offen

    March 6, 2023 at 8:30 pm

    Ed Slavin brand mercury shampoo. You better start approving those comments you old acid head.

  • James Lap

    March 10, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    I am against moving this bill forward,in the coming session.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704