Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) released their 2021 lawsuit economic impact report on Thursday, detailing the state’s legal climate amidst the backdrop of the pandemic.
Hosting a press conference at the Florida Press Center alongside industry leaders, Tom Gaitens, executive director of the Florida chapter of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (FLCALA), unveiled CALA’s 2021 annual report on the economic impact of lawsuit abuse on Florida’s economy. Despite the Sunshine State making strides in the area of lawsuit reform, with the state avoiding the dreaded “Judicial Hellhole” title for the second year in the row, Gaitens noted that the state has a long way to go before the economy is fully shielded from bad actors.
“After taking action over the past couple of years to provide assignment of benefits reform and COVID-19 liability reform, Florida is officially off the list of Judicial Hellholes,” said Gaitens. “But we still have a long way to go. The annual tort tax on the average working family in Florida wipes out any federal stimulus benefit, and if we don’t take additional steps toward reform, we will kill off over 70,000 jobs annually.”
Gaitens was referring to the study commissioned by CALA that shows the impact of lawsuits on Florida to cost approximately 71,971 in new jobs and over $3.6 Billion in wages every year. In that report, CALA found that appropriate reforms are estimated to have a $5.3 billion impact on the state.
Bill Herrle, President of Florida’s National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) chapter, agreed with Gaitens assessment noting that “his association’s businesses, based on Main Street, not Wall Street, were in a constant state of worry over frivolous lawsuits and the potential that they have for permanently closing doors.”
“Our small businessmen and women are falling prey to courtroom extortion tactics, and as long as this continues, we will not have the certainty we need to hire workers and expand operations,” Herrle added.
Earlier this year, the legislature passed a COVID-19 liability reform package that was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. In 2019, the legislature passed assignment of benefits reforms. Other than those two issues, no substantial lawsuit reform has seen the light of day.
CALA was joined at today’s presser by several key business associations, including NFIB, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Faith Leadership Alliance, Floridians for Government Accountability, James Madison Institute, The Florida Council for Safe Communities, and Stand Up North Florida. Gaitens urged small businesses to stand behind these groups and make one final push before the session comes to a close.
“The momentum is here. There are some obstacles in the way. There’s a limited amount of time, but it’s essential that Floridians and small businesses unite behind these entities,” Gaitens remarked.
With a little over one week remaining in the 2021 Legislative Session, Gaitens closed by telling reporters he’s optimistic that the legislature will move to get the remaining measures across the finish line.
“We had an opportunity to reform Florida’s bad faith laws this year, and it looks like we have missed the boat. The only two remaining pieces of legislation impacting lawsuits both include new causes of action for plaintiff’s lawyers,” Gaitens continued. “Enough is enough. We need to protect our small businessmen and women, not put them at risk. When they fail, Florida fails.”