Video Highlights Sue-and-Settle Scheme

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Did You Know Florida Has One of the Worst Legal Climates in the Nation?

Florida’s broken legal climate is in the bottom 10 out of 50 states, and if lawmakers pass prejudgment interest, the worst it yet to come. Florida lawmakers are considering changing laws that would dramatically increase the cost of legal judgments, which would harm Florida businesses.

On March 22, FloridaWins.org released its latest video highlighting the sue-and-settle trial lawyer scheme called prejudgment interest. Watch the video above, and then share it with other business leaders to warn them about the latest sue-and-settle scheme.

Trial Lawyer Bill Temporarily Halted Thanks to Your Leadership

But the Fight Isn’t Over

Thanks to your leadership, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida’s business community today took a stand and, despite a full frontal assault by the trial lawyers, temporarily halted the trial lawyers’ number one legislative priority. And while this is good news, it is only temporary.

Prejudgment interest is the interest accrued as part of a lawsuit from the date of the claim to the time the final judgement is given.

SB 334 would have forced interest to be accrued beginning at the time the loss occurred instead of following the date of judgment. This is especially problematic if delays in court were to occur, all the while accruing interest, and could force companies into settling more court cases to avoid paying additional interest.

Florida already has a bottom-10 legal climate, and bills like prejudgment interest, the trial lawyers’ top priority for the 2017 legislative session, will only increase the costs of Florida’s litigious legal climate and force job creators into a worsening cycle of “sue and settle”.

The Florida Chamber commends Senators Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson and Jack Latvala for standing strong against special-interests and putting Florida’s jobs creators first.

But while this bill has been halted- it is only temporary. Trial lawyers will continue to fight for this bill and we need you now more than ever.

Share how this bill will impact your ability to create jobs by contacting me at cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber and Florida Justice Reform Institute File Amicus Brief in Important Workers’ Compensation Case

On January 8, 2016, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Justice Reform Institute filed an amicus curiae brief, or friend of the court brief, in support of Hialeah Hospital in Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital — a workers’ compensation case that seeks to make the workers’ comp system, in its entirety, unconstitutional.

Workers’ comp is essential for Florida employers, employees and families because it provides the health care necessary to help an injured employee return to work while also protecting job creators from costly litigation.

The jointly filed amicus brief maintains:

  • Stahl does not have standing, or has not proven that changes to the workers’ comp statute have adversely affected him, and
  • The case did not follow the proper judicial procedure for the Florida Supreme Court to determine if the statute is unconstitutional.

“As the leading advocate fighting to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system functioning, fair and affordable, we are concerned that the potential impact of this case could threaten Florida’s improving business climate,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This is another example of Florida’s billboard trial lawyers trying to dismantle a working system by doing what they do best – suing someone.”

Plaintiff attorney maneuvers like we’re seeing with workers’ comp are reflective of a larger legal abuse problem in Florida. In fact, a national survey shows Florida’s lawsuit climate worsening – ranking at an all-time low 44 out of 50 states, the bottom 10. That’s important because 75 percent of companies surveyed say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand.

The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and remain committed to ensuring the voices of job creators throughout Florida are heard before lawmakers in the halls of justice. Ensuring injured workers receive quality care and due process is also a priority.

“To secure Florida’s future, we must keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working,” Hart added.

For more than 10 years, the Florida Chamber has led efforts to help lowers workers’ comp rates by almost 60 percent.

Learn More:

If you would like more information, contact cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Continuously Challenged Medical Liability Laws Drive Up Costs

Earlier this week, the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a portion of the Florida Chamber-backed medical liability reforms that were made in 2013. At question was if “ex parte communications” violated the patient’s right to privacy in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In these cases, “ex parte communications” allow the defense attorney to receive medical information about the patient, including from other doctors who have treated the patient, without the patient or the patient’s attorney needing to be present. This allows the defense attorney to have a clear picture of any other factors that may have contributed to the patient’s medical injury.

This is not the first challenge regarding privacy in medical malpractice cases and “ex parte communications.”  A federal court last year upheld the 2013 reforms, saying that Florida’s addition of “ex parte communications” does not violate federal health care privacy rights.

Furthermore, trial lawyers have continuously attacked the caps for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, with a district court of appeal ruling earlier this month that these caps violated the equal protection clause. This follows a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court last year that also threw out caps on non-economic damages, allowing a patient to collect pain and suffering.

Medical liability lawsuits drive up the cost of doing business, not just for doctors, but for all. Doctors are more likely to order extra tests or procedures to avoid any malpractice, which drives up the cost of healthcare. This is why the Florida Chamber has included medical liability reform in its Smarter Healthcare Coverage in Florida plan.

What’s Next?

The Florida Legislature will start meeting again on September 16th, kicking off fall committee meetings, with a 2016 Florida Legislative Session start date of January 12th. The Florida Chamber will continue to advocate to reduce the cost of healthcare and reform Florida’s bottom-10 legal climate. To add your voice to the fight, contact Greg Blose at gblose@flchamber.com.

Oppose SB 794 Today and Stop Personal Injury Trial Lawyers From Making Florida a More Expensive Place to Live

Did you know that Florida ranks 41 out of 50 states in legal climate? Job creators look at many factors when deciding to move or expand to Florida, and a bottom-10 legal climate only deters economic growth. We should be working to improve our legal climate, however, TODAY the Florida Senate might take a step in the opposite direction.
This afternoon at 4 p.m., the Florida Senate will take up SB 794, related to prejudgment interest. SB 794 allows interest to be charged on damages from the date the injury or tort occurred, not from the date the legal decision was made. Delays in the legal system, which might not be due to the defendant, will only further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits. The result is that more companies will be forced to settle to avoid increased legal costs as a result of additional interest in a drawn out legal system. Please take a moment now to contact these key legislators.

 

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This legislation is bad for Florida’s business because the bill:

  • Further deteriorates Florida’s legal climate and image as a “gotcha” state
  • Increases the cost of personal injury lawsuits, which is already a significant cost to Florida’s employers, by charging interest before a legal decision has been rendered
  • Forces more companies to settle, despite the merit of the claim, to avoid paying interest for ongoing litigation

Take Action Now

Send an email to five key Senators voting on SB 794. Don’t wait, as lawmakers will vote on the bill at 4 p.m. today.

Senate Committee Will Not Hear Anti-Business Bill This Week

Trial Lawyer-Friendly SB 794 May Be Heard Next Week

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which was scheduled to hear Senator Jeremy Ring’s (D-Margate) anti-business SB 794, will not meet this morning. After an overwhelming response by the business community to Sen. Ring’s anti-business bill, which had already been delayed once during a previous committee meeting, the trial lawyer-friendly legislation will now have to wait another week.

SB 794 seeks to make businesses pay interest on judgments in addition to the amount a judge or jury awards, thus driving up the legal costs for businesses. Another adverse reaction to this bill is that it would force many businesses into unfair settlements because of the fear of paying even more by fighting the lawsuit in court.

You may recall Sen. Ring referred to his bill as the “annual battle royale between the trial lawyers and the business community.” It seems as though the business community is winning the battle, but will you commit to helping us win the war?

We will keep you posted on when the next meeting is, but we need you to be prepared to contact key legislators at a moment’s notice.

Why is SB 794 Harmful for Florida Businesses?

This legislation is bad for Florida’s businesses because the bill:

  • Further deteriorates Florida’s legal climate (ranked 41 out of 50 U.S. states) and image as a “gotcha” state
  • Increases the cost of personal injury lawsuits, which is already a significant cost to Florida’s employers, by charging interest before a legal decision has been rendered
  • Forces more companies to settle, despite the merit of the claim, to avoid paying interest for ongoing litigation
  • Delays in the legal system, which might not be due to the defendant, will only further drive up the cost of personal injury lawsuits.

To learn how you can help make more of a difference by sharing your opinion on this and other issues, please contact Greg Blose.

Florida Chamber Expert Panel Discusses Possible Ramification

All eyes are on the Florida Supreme Court as they deliberate taking action on two cases that could significantly impact Florida’s workers’ compensation rates.

Keeping workers’ comp rates fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics is a top priority of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. On behalf of Florida’s business community, the Florida Chamber led efforts to help lower workers’ comp rates by more than 50 percent over the last 10 years.

The Florida Chamber is laser focused on both cases before the state’s high court and we are actively engaged, having filed an Amicus Brief in both cases. Recently, during the Florida Chamber’s Insurance Summit, a panel of workers’ comp experts shared their thoughts on both cases.

The panel discussed how these cases challenge the gap between temporary and total permanent disability, the legality of caps on attorneys’ fees, and whether workers’ comp should serve as an exclusive remedy. A decision against the business community in any one of these cases could have a significant impact on workers’ comp rates.

The Florida Chamber is committed to keeping you apprised of the outcome of these cases, and will share the high court’s ruling as soon as the opinion is released.

Brownfield Efforts Facilitate Economic Growth

This legislative session, the Florida Chamber helped pass a bill that simplified the designation of a brownfield through clear and efficient government processes.

“This legislation will serve as a catalyst for significant economic development and voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties in Florida by addressing two key issues that served as impediments to the voluntary cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfield sites in Florida,” said Florida Brownfields Association President Michael Sznapstajler.

Brownfields, areas of contaminated land that require redevelopment and clean-up, can be a significant element in community revitalization, especially within community redevelopment areas, empowerment zones or other areas.

During the most recent legislative session, the Florida Chamber helped to successfully defeat trial lawyer-friendly language that would have encouraged attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits at the expense of Florida’s taxpayers against brownfield redevelopments.

Thanks in part to our continued efforts; brownfield initiatives have strengthened local economies throughout our state. In fact, a recent report released by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows that the Florida Brownfield Redevelopment Program has led to new capital investments of $194 million in 2013.

 

Other report findings indicate:

  • Since inception of the program, 75 contaminated sites have been cleaned up,
  • So far, more than 65,000 confirmed and projected direct and indirect jobs have been created, and
  • To date, $2.5 billion in capital investment has been made in designated brownfield areas.

“Florida’s Brownfield Redevelopment Program continues to facilitate the successful redevelopment of underutilized areas throughout the state,” said Jorge Caspary, director of DEP’s Division of Waste Management. “This program not only makes it possible to mitigate contaminated sites, but also has created more than 10,000 jobs and stimulates the economy in the process.”

 

Stay Connected:

Visit our election center at www.FloridaChamber.com/2014Election and see the candidates we have endorsed, download a copy of How They Voted and learn what we are doing to help Florida businesses.