Rally at Capitol Shows Support for Lawsuit Limitation

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Car dealer Eddie Hopkins was hit with a huge lawsuit when one of his customers crashed a car into a motorist who pulled out in front of him. Even though Hopkins wasn’t behind the wheel and his customer wasn’t at fault, Hopkins has to pay a $750,000 settlement. He says those kind of lawsuits can destroy businesses.

Eddie says, "Instead of going out and operating our business day to day, interacting with our customers and selling the product, we have to watch our backsides constantly."

Hopkins joined a crowd of business representatives, law enforcement and health care workers at the Capitol to push for tighter limits on lawsuits.

Jeb Bush says runaway litigation makes businesses think twice before locating here.

"We have a great business climate. This is one of the areas that’s not so great. This is one of the areas that puts us at a competitive disadvantage when people make investment decisions. It’s a job-killing situation."

But attorneys say less than 4.5 percent of the cases filed are negligence cases. They argue lawmakers are trying to fix a system that’s not broken and regular citizens will end up paying the price.

The president of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers says the whole reform effort is really just political payback for Republican campaign donors.

Zander Clem of the Academy of Trial Lawyers says, "It is unfortunate that they’re trying to take away people’s rights all for the sake of paying back big insurance and big business. It’s wrong."

With pressure on from Washington and the blessings of House and Senate leaders, it’s likely additional lawsuit limits will pass.

Among other proposals, lawmakers want to restrict class-action lawsuits, provide protections for property owners and retailers if someone is hurt on their property and limit lawsuits against police if someone is hurt in a car chase.