- Florida leads the U.S. in litigation, with over 59,400 cases filed from March 2022 to March 2023, translating to 276 cases per 100,000 people, more than double the number in New York.
- Legislative changes in Florida earlier this year triggered a surge in legal activity, with more than 280,000 new cases filed in March alone, marking a 126% increase.
- The economic impact of this litigation is substantial, with legal costs exceeding $40 billion, amounting to 3.63% of the state’s GDP, and efforts to reform lawsuit filing procedures are expected in the upcoming 2023 Regular Session.
Florida has once again secured its place at the top of a national ranking, but this distinction is one that some in the state would rather not have. According to a recent study by Tribeca Lawsuit Loans, Florida leads the U.S. in litigation, with more than 59,400 cases filed from March 2022 to March 2023, translating to 276 cases per 100,000 people. That’s more than double the number of lawsuits filed in New York, a state with a similar population.
Rory Donadio, CEO of Tribeca, noted that “Florida is miles away in filing cases than any other state,” adding that even the Florida courts’ website sees over 300,000 visitors each month. The state had regularly firted with the title of “judicial hellhole” from the American Tort Reform Foundation for its history of excessive litigation and abuse of the court system.
What’s noteworthy is that a change in Florida law earlier this year set off a surge of legal activity as law firms filed cli. Legislative efforts aiming to curb lawsuit abuse culminated in a frenzy of new cases before the passage of a tort reform bill. According to the Florida Bar, more than 280,000 new cases were filed in March alone, marking a 126% increase over the highest-ever number of cases recorded in May 2021.
In just two days in March, Tampa Bay courts witnessed the filing of around 680 lawsuits, covering a range of issues from insurance claims to car accidents and medical malpractice. In contrast, only 120 complaints were filed during the same period in the previous year.
The economic impact of this level of litigation is substantial. A 2020 report indicated that legal costs in Florida exceeded $40 billion, amounting to 3.63% of the state’s gross domestic product. Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) also reports that lawsuit abuse wipes out billions of dollars in economic activity annually and imposes an $812.52 “tort tax” per resident.
Earlier this year, Tom Gaitens, Executive Director of CALA, praised Florida’s lawsuit reforms, nevertheless emphasized that “much more work” remains to be done. From 2010 to 2019, Florida led the nation in what are called “nuclear verdicts”—extraordinarily high judgments in lawsuits—totaling $35 billion. Those kinds of verdicts play an outsized role in Florida’s legal landscape – triggering follow-on lawsuits to attempt to cash in.
Despite past and current legislative actions, there’s a consensus that more needs to be done. A new round of legislation is expected to be filed in the upcoming 2024 Regular Session to further regulate lawsuits and court reforms. While the state grapples with its position as a leader in national litigation, the wait is on to see how lawmakers will address the torrent of lawsuits that continue to flood the courts.
Here’s how Florida stacks up against the nation’s other Top 10 most litigious states:
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