TALLAHASSEE -- A recent report has revealed that trial lawyers contributed a total of $6.2 million to Florida candidates' political campaigns this election cycle.
In the latest report from Sick of Lawsuits Florida (SOL), the contributions from personal injury lawyers to individual state candidates reached $1.1 million. Meanwhile, the state party committees received $1.6 million. As for the Super-PACs and other political groups, the Florida lawyers spent $3.5 million on their election expenses.
The alarming amount of contributions from Florida lawyers has SOL convinced that the trial attorneys in the state are attempting to manipulate the system, meaning the contributions were made in an effort to exert their influence to the lawmakers who get elected with their financial assistance, the group stated.
According to the group, the Sunshine State has become a “judicial hellhole.” This is allegedly due to the abusive lawsuits filed by trial lawyers who take advantage of the loopholes found in the laws. With the trial lawyers purportedly pushing for politicians who would be amenable to bypassing meaningful legal reforms, the group ensures that they could continuously exploit the Florida justice system, SOL stated.
“Florida’s political system has become increasingly dominated by personal injury lawyer influence,” said SOL spokesperson Julie Griffiths via a press release. “The massive influx of campaign contributions encourages lawmakers to promote personal injury lawyer interests -- namely, finding more ways to sue. It’s where the cycle of lawsuit abuse begins.”
SOL’s report provides an analysis of the political contribution data for the top 125 politically involved trial lawyers and law firms in the state. The data included the contributions from the Florida Justice Association, which represent trial lawyers. The information gathered showed that the top four highest spending Florida law firms provided more than $300,000 to the politicians’ expenses. Meanwhile, the top 10 law firms contributed more than $400,000. There were also individual contributions that amounted to at least $50,000.
Griffiths noted that this kind of environment could be detrimental to small businesses in Florida. She pointed out that this could potentially harm the economy, as well.
“The implications of a bad legal environment are long lasting and hurt small businesses, consumers and the state’s economy. That’s why voters need to be informed about where candidates stand on lawsuit abuse issues and who is providing them financial support,” Griffiths said in the press release.
Griffith’s concerns were confirmed by Bennett Pumo, a small business owner in the state. He said in the press release that "lawsuit abuse is a Florida job killer."
"Personal injury lawyers are cashing in on junk lawsuits while jobs in our communities have been lost. As a small business owner, I have seen jobs and wages cut because of out of control lawsuits. It’s tough enough to run a small business, the last thing we need is more lawsuits or politicians who support lawsuit abuse," he stated in the release.
The state has gained the status of having the seventh worst litigation climate in the country. Florida also has earned the reputation of becoming an ideal place for personal injury lawyer advertising. In fact, SOL revealed that Tampa has been ranked No. 1 in terms of television advertising across the nation.