Skip to main content

Judicial Hellholes -- How Does South Florida Fare?

One of my fellow colleagues at Houck Anderson has provided me a copy of the American Tort Reform Foundation's 2010-2011 "Judicial Hellholes" piece. I recall reading the piece issued for 2009-2010, which ranked South Florida as the number one "Judicial Hellhole" in all of the United States. That is quite a notorious distinction that no jurisdiction wants. The 2009-2010 report can be found below at:

This year, South Florida ranks as the number 4 "Judicial Hellhole" for all the United States. The report cites the Florida Legislature's passing of three laws: 1) a constructive notice requirement for slip-and-fall cases; 2) the approval of parents signing liability waivers on behalf of their minor child; and 3) caps on attorney's fees for attorneys that do work for the state. That report can be found by clicking below:

Now, I do not provide this information because I agree with the reports issued. Far from it! I provide this information so that points of view on litigation in South Florida can be brought out to light and discussed in this forum. Litigation affects the maritime industry--just look at the amount of cruise lines involved in litigation here. In interpreting these reports, they are certainly quite one sided (they are issued by the American Tort Reform Foundation, aren't they?). However, they do highlight difficulties those of us in the defense community face in South Florida--high verdicts and scandals involving attorneys meant to uphold their oaths of attorney when they became members of the Florida Bar. We can only hope that South Florida will continue to make its way out of this notorious list.

If you are interested in reaching me or wish to discuss this issue further, please feel free to write me at or at Houck Anderson, P.A. at


Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…