U.S. Chamber: Florida Legal Climate Shows Modest Improvement

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March 26, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today announced that Florida's legal climate has shown modest progress, moving up four spots to number 38 in the 2006 Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study. Miami-Dade County remains one of the least fair and reasonable jurisdictions in the country.

"The legislature passed a much-needed bill last year to weed out frivolous asbestos and silica lawsuits, but Florida still has a long way to go," said Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Among the next steps should be legislation allowing lawyers to sue only those companies allegedly responsible for an injury and keep plaintiffs' lawyers from targeting companies with the deepest pockets."

A recent actuarial study estimated the annual cost of the tort system in America to be $260 billion, or $886 per citizen. Following those estimates, the price tag of tort litigation for the entire population of Florida is more than $15 billion.

"The best thing Florida can do to attract business is to have a fair legal system," continued Donohue. "An unfair legal system sucks the life out of a state's economy. It affects business expansion, it affects jobs and it takes money out of consumers' pockets."

The ILR/Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,400 senior attorneys, now in its fifth year, is the preeminent standard by which companies, policymakers and the media measure the legal fairness of states. In 2006, West Virginia ranked last among the fifty states and, for the fifth year in a row, Delaware is ranked number one.

To highlight the results of the study and the need for comprehensive legal reform, ILR is launching a national advertising campaign. In Tallahassee, ILR will run print and billboard ads featuring the message "Please Don't Feed the Trial Lawyers."

ILR's mission is to make America's legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.