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Pro business group takes on trial lawyers in new ad campaign

The Associated Industries of Florida in a new campaign urges lawmakers to past tort reform and warns the public of "greedy" billboard lawyers.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 4:00 p.m. March 14, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
AIF launches ad campaign to push for tort reform.
AIF launches ad campaign to push for tort reform.
Courtesy photo
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A powerful state association is taking its fight for tort reform to the streets.

The Associated Industries of Florida recently launched a campaign to urge legislators statewide to support two bills that could significantly change how lawyers operate — and what they charge in Florida.

The two bills now working their way through the Legislature are meant to “tackle lawsuit abuse” by, among other measures, creating “reasonable” attorney fees for most civil suits, reducing the statute of limitations for negligence actions and providing “standards for evidence” to prove damages for medical expenses, according to a statement. 

AIF president and CEO Brewster Bevis says, “With these reforms, Florida’s leaders are telling trial attorneys enough is enough and taking bold steps to rein in lawsuit abuse in our state.

“This will put an end, once and for all, to the tort tax that Florida businesses and consumers have been paying for far too long.”

The House version of the bill, HB 837, was filed by House Judiciary Chair Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, and Tom Fabricio, R-Miami Lakes. SB 236 is the Senate version of the bill. 

AIF's ad campaign pitch will use the same mediums many a Florida lawyers have used to make their pitch to clients: billboards, television, radio and digital media.

An AIF spokesperson declined to say how much the organization was spending or in what markets the ads will run. 

The pro-business lobbying group did say the ads would be posted on billboards around the Capitol.

The ads urge people to call state leaders to pressure them to enact tort reform. In one of the billboard ads, AIF seems to take direct aim at one of the biggest personal injury law firms in the state, Orlando-based Morgan & Morgan and its “For the People” motto.

It reads: “Billboard lawyers. For their pockets. Not the people.”

The radio and TV ads attack, and accuse, with all the flair and drama you've come to expect from political campaign ad, trial lawyers of being greedy, creating job losses and costing the average Floridan $5,000 per year.

Lawyers across the state have bristled at their portrayal as simply being money hungry. Many contends their job is to protect consumers from unfair treatment.

But that’s been an uphill battle as of late with Gov. Ron DeSantis; State Sen. President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples; and House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, all saying they see tort reform as a priority this legislative session.

To that end, HB 541, which was written to change windshield laws that are said to encourage lawsuits and send auto insurance rates higher, cleared the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee Tuesday. As for SB 236, it passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary on Tuesday as well.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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