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Sunshine State courts wilt under pressure

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  • | 2:39 p.m. October 8, 2012
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Florida's legal climate, and its reputation for an anti-business court system, continues to rank among the 10 worst in the country, a new Institute for Legal Reform report shows.

The state ranked 41st — the fourth consecutive time its legal environment failed to crack the top 40 in the institute's annual list. The main issues, according to Institute for Legal Reform Senior Vice President Kevin Watson, are junk science, bad faith and legislating from the bench. The Institute for Legal Reform is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Florida, unfortunately, has this reputation in part based on the laws on the books and to some degree the action of the courts,” Watson says on a recent edition of “The Bottom Line,” a video produced by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “There's certainly a lot of room for Florida to improve and to create a more competitive business climate.”

The Florida Legislature, lobbied hard by pro-business groups, has tried to improve the climate. But the trial lawyer lobby has successfully countered those efforts. For example, a reform bill for “bad-faith” lawsuits, where a jury can award hundreds of times more than an insurance policy covers, was narrowly defeated in a committee vote. See Business Review, Feb. 16.


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