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Train in Vain

The legislative failure of a proposed Central Florida commuter rail has engendered a real wave of reporting on the influence (or resurgence, as the case may be) of the state's trial lawyers, who helped kill the plan over liability issues.

  • The Sarasota Herald Tribune: "TALLAHASSEE -- The legislative battle that doomed commuter rail service in Orlando had little to do with the $641 million cost or the cries from other cities about the resulting increase in freight traffic...It came down to a question of who could sue whom and for how much. Nobody in Tallahassee is better prepared for that fight than the Florida Justice Association, the lobbying arm of nearly 4,000 trial lawyers."
  • The Lakeland Ledger: "TALLAHASSEE | All you needed to know about who was winning and losing the battle to bring commuter rail to Orlando you could learn from looking at the faces of lobbyists packed into the Capitol....As lawmakers worked through the hectic final day of their 60-day session on May 2, lobbyists from CSX Transportation and Orlando scurried through the hallways in a frenzied effort that failed to save the half-billion-dollar deal....But lobbyists for the state's trial lawyers, who had emerged as the primary opponents, leaned coolly against the limestone walls outside the Senate chambers. Their focus had shifted to the filming of a skit video for their upcoming annual meeting."
  • And in The Tampa Bay Tribune, a story entitled, "Lawyers Feeling the Florida Legislature's Love Again."

The stories are all so ...frank. And informative for it. Gov. Jeb Bush was a noted critic of the trial bar; he wrote the foreward for the Pacific Research Institute's 2008 Tort Liability Index. Times change, as do governors.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.