TALLAHASSEE – Civil litigation funding has become an increasingly lucrative business for third parties in Florida and elsewhere, raising concern about the effect this practice may have on the civil justice system and questions about whether more regulation is needed to keep the industry in check.
“Florida is the wild frontier of litigation.” Bill Herrle, executive director in Florida for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), told the Florida Record when asked about third parties funding litigation and the influence the financiers have in Florida. “I view the litigation sector as an industry, just like manufacturing, or the service industry or hospitality. These guys are in it for the money, and they’re an industry. It’s just a new product; it’s very lucrative; and Florida is a very litigation-prone state.”
Third-party funders provide capital to plaintiffs in litigation in return for a portion of the funds recovered from the lawsuit.
Herrie also spoke about exposing the practice, which he says “is not blind, because they know what they are doing,” so Floridians understand that outside interests have financial stakes in the litigation they fund.
“The legislation we’re going to pursue next year is going to lift the veil on this practice.” Herrle said. “We think Floridians are going to (be) repulsed when they learn that there are third party interests who have a financial stake hold in our justice system.
"At a minimum, what we’re going to seek is to have this be brought into the daylight,” Herrle said when asked about plans for legislation to make third-party litigation funding contracts transparent to jurors. “At a minimum, we think that this information should be known by the jurors.”