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Florida legal climate feels hellish

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  • | 11:00 a.m. January 8, 2016
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Florida gets no love from the American Tort Reform Foundation's latest Judicial Hellhole report.

The foundation, which has published the report every year since 2002, looks for jurisdictions where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally to the disadvantage of defendants. Some jurisdictions on the list are states, others are individual counties or sections of law. The goal of the program, foundation officials say in a statement, is to highlight where there are issues nationally and encourage reforms, either through judges or a legislative remedy.

Florida, according to the new report, is the No. 3 hellhole in the country, behind only California and New York City asbestos litigation. The comments from the foundation on the Sunshine State are a scathing look at what it calls a court system dominated by plaintiffs' lawyers.

“Those who do business, practice medicine or are otherwise unfortunate enough to be hit with a lawsuit in Florida are, by now, sadly familiar with the cycle,” the report states. “The Florida Supreme Court issues a liability-expanding ruling that is out of sync with courts in the rest of the country. Even when the state legislature, which is heavily influenced by trial lawyers, manages to enact reforms, the state's high court nullifies them in favor of boundless liability in the Sunshine State.”

The report adds that last year the Florida Supreme Court “kept a vague, plaintiff-friendly standard for assessing whether a product is defective, permitted inflated awards for future medical expenses and placed liability on landlords for the acts of criminals.”

Other areas that made the top 10 for hellholes on the foundation's list include Louisiana, Missouri and Madison County, Ill., in the southern part of the state, outside St. Louis.


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