Florida's business courts Attorneys laud progress in the system but see room for improvement

By February 3, 2012

Florida’s Business Courts have been very well-received, and have moved along complex business litigation–but some say there is still room for improvement. A new round of judges is the right time to refine how these courts operate.
Read the full article from Florida Trend Magazine here.
by Cindy Krischer Goodman
The state Legislature — with a push from the Florida Bar — created Florida’s first business court in Orlando in 2004. Since then, that court has handled more than 3,600 cases, and the concept of designating a judge to specialize in business litigation — antitrust suits, franchise cases, intellectual property suits and the like — has spread throughout Florida.
Tampa and Miami created business courts in 2007. A year later, Fort Lauderdale used a slightly different model to create a litigation unit for disputes of more than $150,000. Judges Jeffrey Streitfeld, Jack Tuter and Patti Englander Henning hear cases other business courts in Florida might not, including medical malpractice and product liability suits.
So far the courts have been almost universally well-received. Attorneys say that having a judge with expertise in complex litigation helps move cases through the system faster and has made judicial rulings more consistent. “These cases would have bogged down other divisions,” says Merrick Gross, a commercial litigator at Carlton Fields who spearheaded the Bar’s advocacy for business courts nearly a decade ago. Economic developers, meanwhile, have touted the courts because they say businesses are drawn to areas that show an understanding of business-related litigation.
Lawyers say several factors have left room for improvement, however. “There’s a perception that cases were moving too slowly and decisions were taking longer than hoped to get decided,” says Jim Murphy, an attorney with Shook Hardy & Bacon in Tampa. Murphy says much of the problem has stemmed from funding issues — the business courts, he says, didn’t get the kind of support staff and other help to enable them to work through cases more quickly. “These are complicated cases that require research and active case managing, and the resources we initially had envisioned were not there,” he says. “I think the caseloads were more than anticipated.”
In 2009, there was a moratorium on assigning additional cases to the business court in Tampa, and Murphy served on a committee created to recommend tweaks.
Meet the new judges and read the rest of the article here.