Everyone has always anecdotally known that S. Florida is more litigious, but I have never seen any true analysis of the situation. The few cases I have handled over the years down there certainly have attested to a very different environment. It got me to thinking that we do have actual statistics by venue and JCC in the DOAH annual report , and that might give us some statistical insight.
(The link to the entire DOAH report is below)
If you look at the 3 venues that compromise S. FL, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, compared to the rest of the state you will find the following :
• Miami and (starting next year) Ft. Lauderdale, are the only venues in the state where the existing judges cannot handle the volume of litigation, and cases are being covered by out of venue judges.
• This is true, even though all 3 venues average 16% less new litigated claims per judge. Each case has more litigation within it.
• Each claim can have multiple PFB’s filed for issues that arise. Even with 16% smaller volume of cases, the average number of PFB’s is 13% higher than the average in the state per judge. Each PFB triggers more litigation events. They are litigating more issues per claim in S.Fla.
• There are 10% more trials, out of a caseload of 16% less claims. That’s a big swing.
• And, they don’t settle their cases but instead litigate issues to earn a fee in S. Fla. Each judge averaged 17% fewer settlements than the rest of the state but yet averaged 35% more joint stipulations resolving the issues without a settlement and/or paying claimant attorney fees.
Per Judge S FL avg State avg % difference
PFB’s filed 2658 2359 +13%
New litigated claims 865 1024 -16%
Trials 26 24 +10%
Settlements 711 858 -17%
Joint Stipulations 477 352 +35%
The most telling stat is the number of Petitions filed versus the number of new claims assigned. S. Florida has 35% more PFB’s filed per case than the rest of the state (based on the per JCC analysis). As you travel North on I-95, it becomes more reasonable….the next adjacent venue is Port St. Lucie, and their figure is only 13% above the state average. Travel to the next venue, Daytona, and the average dips below the state average.
PFB’s per case State avg per case
S. FL 3.1 2.3 +35%
PSL 2.6 2.3 +13%
DAY 1.9 2.3 -17%
So, the result is litigation defense in S. Florida is just more costly and duration is longer due to the volume of litigation within each case. Our firm has 16 lawyers in S. Florida in our Miami and West Palm Beach offices, fighting the good fight..
Here is the link to the DOAH annual report, but don’t hit print unless you hate trees, its 300 plus pages.
Morgan Indek | Managing Partner