The American Tort Reform Foundation is out with a new report listing jurisdictions with the most unfair and unbalanced civil court systems that are often biased against business defendants. The ATRF calls those areas making their annual list “judicial hellholes.” Florida sits at number 2 on that list, which is an improvement from last year when the state topped the list. The Washington, D.C. foundation says Florida’s fall wasn’t because of improvement but because California was worse.
Florida’s high ranking may come as a surprise considering two-decades of Republican control. The tort reform foundation, however, places the blame for Florida’s high ranking on one entity – the state Supreme Court.
“Florida had a great opportunity to improve its ranking as a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ and they squandered it,” said Tiger Joyce, American Tort Reform Association president. “The Florida legislature passed legislation in 2013 adopting the Daubert standard requiring judges to ensure that expert testimony in the courts is based on generally accepted scientific and technical principles, and this year the Florida Supreme Court deemed the bill unconstitutional, opening the door for ‘junk science’ in its courtrooms.”
That state Supreme Court ruling was 4-3 with the liberal wing of the high court invalidating the legislation.
This criticism isn’t new. Business groups have long complained a majority on the Supreme Court make Florida unfriendly to business growth.
Those complaints will apparently come to an end in January. Three of the 4 Florida Supreme Court justices seen as most liberal face mandatory retirement. Governor-elect Ron DeSantis will appoint three new judges, giving him the opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court during his first week in office.
The top 9 “Judicial Hellholes” are:
— New York City
— City of St. Louis, MO
— City of Philadelphia
— New Jersey Legislature
— Madison and St. Clair Counties, Ill
— Twin Cities, MN
The American Tort Reform Association is based in Washington, D.C. with a membership comprised of trade and business groups.