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Statement By:
Tammy Perdue, General Counsel, Associated Industries of Florida

Regarding the Legislature’s Passage of Important Tort Reform Bills

May 4, 2011

“Today, the Florida Legislature passed two significant pieces of tort reform legislation that will level the courtroom playing field for Florida businesses.  For too long, Florida’s has had a reputation for being a litigation-happy state with a legal environment unfriendly to businesses interested in expanding or establishing a presence in our state.  By passing much-needed tort reform, we help remove some of the legal roadblocks that have been hindering Florida’s economic recovery and growth.

Prior to the House’s passage today of crashworthiness legislation, Florida was the only state in the nation that prohibits the introduction of any evidence relating to the driver’s condition at the time of an automobile crash when that driver is suing an auto manufacturer over the “crashworthiness” of the vehicle.  For instance, a jury might never know the driver involved in a lawsuit was drunk at the time of the crash. Not giving the jury all the details, including a critical piece of information about the driver’s condition, is unfair and absurd.  Correcting this inequity will now open the doors to automotive manufacturing companies that previously had not considered Florida as a base of operation.  Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) deeply appreciates the hard work and unwavering commitment of both Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) and Rep. Marlene O’Toole (R-Leesburg) who played critical roles in getting this good piece of legislation passed through both chambers.

Another critical tort reform bill also passed by the Legislature today provides immunity to businesses and individuals who voluntarily provide housing and shelter to first responders during natural disasters. Now, those who open their homes to first responders can do so without worrying that their generosity will be met with litigation based on unavoidable and unforeseen circumstances that often occur in disaster situations. This will help communities rebuild faster by harnessing their own resources more efficiently and fairly. AIF salutes Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) and Rep. Joe Abruzzo (D-Wellington) for their vision and leadership on this important legal reform.

AIF has been a leading advocate for tort reform and applauds the Florida Legislature for enacting measures that will help decrease the legal abuses that hurt businesses and our ability to attract new businesses to the state.”