.@NFIB and @StopLawAbuse release studies showing how #lawsuit abuse hurts #SmallBiz and Florida’s local economies. @DSimmonsFL @bob_rommel @Paul_Renner https://t.co/nLbo5hS9Au pic.twitter.com/M2paz1DK34
— NFIB Florida (@nfib_fl) June 5, 2019
NFIB and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse held an event today to release economic reports that detail the excessive tort costs in Florida’s major cities. The study, conducted by Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), showed that frivolous lawsuits cost the people of Florida both 126,139 jobs and $614.8 million in annual state revenues.
Click the name of the city to learn more about the impact of excessive tort costs on their metropolitan areas: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, Port St. Lucie, Tallahassee, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater.
Bill Herrle, NFIB’s executive director for Florida, gave a recap of the 2019 legislative session, including the passage of Assignment of Benefits reform. NFIB and CALA both pointed out that Florida’s civil justice system can hinder the state’s economy and addressing lawsuit reform in the 2020 legislative session will provide a way to ensure Florida’s long-term prosperity.
“Small businesses are especially vulnerable to legal attacks,” Herrle said. “Small businesses don’t have staff attorneys to defend themselves against every nuisance suit or bogus accusation, and they aren’t sitting on piles of cash. When a small business is sued, it has to spend thousands of dollars to defend itself. Just one lawsuit can be enough to put a small business out of business, even if the case is eventually thrown out of court.”
Herrle was joined by Michelle Smith, owner of Source1 Specialty Services Inc., an NFIB member business in Winter Springs, and leaders from other Florida organizations, including the James Madison Institute, the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Floridians for Government Accountability, the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Florida Council for Safe Communities.
Highlights from the economic reports showed exactly how frivolous lawsuits have affected Florida. The total current impact of excessive tort costs on the Florida economy is estimated to be $7.6 billion annual direct costs that come from the taxpayers’ pockets.
“When my business was faced with litigation, it created a significant strain on our operations,” Smith said. “The time and financial resources it required of us took attention away from our customers, which is where the attention needs to be for a small business to grow. Small businesses like ours should not have to operate with the threat of an unwarranted lawsuit hanging over our heads. Without a doubt, Florida desperately needs lawsuit reform.”
Herrle said, “Our members will be working with their local legislators to stop predatory practices such as third-party litigation financing, jury awards that are based on inflated and even fictional medical costs and workers’ compensation and medical malpractice reform.
“We need the Florida Legislature to balance the scales of justice and create an environment where small businesses can afford to grow and create jobs,” Herrle said.