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Ron DeSantis Leads Florida Off the ‘Judicial Hellholes’ List

By KEVIN DERBY -12.08.20

Gavel in couurtoom 

Florida is off the list of “Judicial Hellholes” and a prominent legal reformer is giving Gov. Ron DeSantis the credit.

On Tuesday, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) released its annual look at “Judicial Hellholes” and Florida has made progress, slipping out of the top 10.

The ATRA has been identifying “Judicial Hellholes” for almost 20 years, signaling out “places where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally to the disadvantage of defendants” and other legal matters.

“More recently, as the lawsuit industry has aggressively lobbied for legislative and regulatory expansions of liability, as well, the Judicial Hellholes report has evolved to include such law- and rule-making activity, much of which can affect the fairness of any given jurisdiction’s civil justice climate as readily as judicial actions,” noted the Florida Justice Reform Institute, which works with the ATRA.

William Large praised DeSantis’s efforts to reform Florida’s legal climate.

“Governor DeSantis is single-handedly pulling Florida out of its Judicial Hellhole,” said Large on Tuesday.

“Under Governor DeSantis, Florida’s legal environment is now making national headlines for the right reasons,” added Large. “Governor DeSantis was spot on when he said that Florida’s legal system should compensate real injuries and resolve real disputes, and not be used as a game.”

“ATRA was right to commend Governor DeSantis, and they’re right to call on the Legislature to follow the governor’s courageous lead and fix the laws before the games get to the Supreme Court in the first place,” Large continued.

Still, the ARTA continues to monitor Florida which is on its watch list.

“A former No. 1 Judicial Hellhole, Florida continued to make progress towards improving its legal climate in 2020 as a direct result of Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R) thoughtful and decisive leadership, as he continued to remake the Florida Supreme Court through two additional appointments. Florida appears to be a tale of two stories, though, as the legislature stalled in its efforts to pass long-sought, meaningful lawsuit reform. South Florida has developed a well-deserved reputation for its aggressive personal injury bar and fraudulent and abusive litigation practices. While the rest of the state has looked to curb litigation abuse, some South Florida judges have allowed it to run rampant. As a result, Florida remains on the Watch List,” the report noted.

Reach Kevin Derby at [email protected].