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Tom Gaitens Opinion: Florida Made Big Strides on Civil Justice Reform in 2023 Session

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Florida‭’‬s‭ ‬2023‭ ‬legislative session has proved to be monumental with the governor signing into law a landmark civil justice reform package.‭ ‬When you combine the reforms from the‭ ‬2022‭ ‬special‭ ‬sessions and the civil justice reform package,‭ ‬these last‭ ‬12‭ ‬months have seen more done to help citizens of Florida,‭ ‬small businesses than any period in generations.

However,‭ ‬the Florida trial bar did not sit idly by as all these reform efforts occurred.‭ ‬In the last year,‭ ‬the trial lobby spent‭ ‬$271‭ ‬million in legal ads,‭ ‬in addition to funding a PAC to confuse Floridians about the pending legislation and its impact.‭ ‬What‭’‬s more,‭ ‬Morgan and Morgan alone spent‭ ‬20 percebt‭ ‬of this total amount and funded untold sums to the PAC.

In total,‭ ‬more than‭ ‬$155‭ ‬million was spent on television advertisements.‭ ‬These advertisements are a means to recruit new clients and to pad trial attorneys pockets.‭ ‬But this spending did not include the PAC money used to manipulate and confuse the rank-and-file Floridians regarding the reforms passed this session.

In the three days between the Florida Legislature passing the Civil Justice reform package and the governor‭’‬s signature enacting the law,‭ ‬trial attorneys filed‭ ‬90,000‭ ‬new cases.‭ ‬It‭’‬s clear that the intention was to capitalize on the old lucrative loophole filled marketplace and to punish reformers by clogging the courts into the future.

The trial lobby could not buy enough influence to stop this reform when the governor signaled he would prioritize civil justice reform.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬the trial bar strategy focused on clogging the courts.‭ ‬Morgan and Morgan bragged about their intent to play hardball stating,‭ ‬it would be considered a‭ “‬serious internal offense if we find any courtesies being extended.‭”

The clear intent of the‭ ‬90,000‭ ‬cases being filed is to impair the benefits intended in the civil justice reform package.

And who exactly loses out‭? ‬It‭’‬s Floridians like you and I.‭ ‬The trial bar knows that by strategically backlogging the courts,‭ ‬the insurance market in Florida will only continue to destabilize and therefore insurance rates cannot come down as quickly.‭ ‬Undoubtedly,‭ ‬the trial lobby will barrage the highways with billboards,‭ ‬the television with ads,‭ ‬and radio with commercials claiming‭ ‬‘See,‭ ‬your rates are not coming down,‭ ‬just like we said‭’‬ but it is not because the reforms did not work,‭ ‬rather it is because they gamed the system to make sure consumers like you and me won‭’‬t reap any benefits of the reforms for years into the future‭!

Instead of‭ ‬being able to work by a new set of enacted reforms which would work to stabilize the marketplace,‭ ‬the trial bar has strategically prevented the marketplace from finding a means to a better rate structure for Floridians.

Sadly,‭ ‬this is what we‭’‬ve come to expect from the trial bar in Florida especially as they realize their reign of influence is slipping away.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬this was a new low from their bag of tricks and a scheme that Floridians aren‭’‬t soon to forget.

Tom Gaitens is the executive director of Florida Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.


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