Miami-Dade County is one of the least fair jurisdictions in the country for lawsuits, according to a new poll of top lawyers and executives at major companies commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
About 10 percent of the 1,200 respondents said courts in Miami-Dade have “the least fair and reasonable litigation environment for both defendants and plaintiffs” in the country, tied with New York and San Francisco for sixth-worst local jurisdiction nationwide.
Florida didn’t fare any better. It was ranked at number 44 in the country for the fairness of its state liability system, scoring poorly for its treatment of tort and contract litigation, class action suits, scientific and technical evidence, judges’ competence and other factors.
In a press release, the Chamber criticized the Florida Supreme Court for recent rulings on medical malpractice claims and “bad faith” insurance lawsuits, saying that a difficult climate for companies involved in lawsuits could stop businesses from moving to or expanding in Florida.
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The state finished at number 41 in the nation in 2012, the last time the survey took place.
“Lawsuit abuse in Florida has been a big problem for a decade,” Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said in an online video that accompanied the poll. “And credit to the Florida legislature: they’ve done some work. The problem is other states have done more.”
But lawyers who handle consumer protection cases say courts in South Florida are working well.
“The poll is a way to create the impression that the courts are not being fair to certain businesses and that’s not the case,” said Peter Prieto, an attorney at Podhurst Orseck who is lead counsel on a class-action lawsuit against automotive manufacturer Takata over exploding airbags. “Consumer protection cases are critically important because they serve as a deterrent against bad corporate behavior.”
Prieto also said that several complex class-actions suits against tobacco companies have been litigated in Florida state and federal courts.
The 2015 poll was conducted this spring by Harris Poll through telephone and online interviews. It surveyed general counsels, senior attorneys and executives at companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million.