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Florida's cost for losing lawsuits continues to rise

$19 million in legal expenses since Scott took office

Governor Rick Scott announces during a press conference at Jungle Island that the number of tourists visiting the state for the first three months of 2017 was about 31.1 million people on May 15, 2017 in Miami, Florida.
Governor Rick Scott announces during a press conference at Jungle Island that the number of tourists visiting the state for the first three months of 2017 was about 31.1 million people on May 15, 2017 in Miami, Florida.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's price tag for losing legal battles continues to grow under Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott recently agreed to pay $1.1 million to cover the legal bills of physicians and medical organizations who successfully challenged a law that restricted doctors' ability to talk to patients about guns. In July, the state also agreed to a $2 million payment that will go to lawyers who sued on behalf of disabled inmates.

Since Scott took office, the state has paid at least $19 million to cover expenses and fees for opposing lawyers.

This includes $12 million to attorneys who represented pediatricians. Florida has also paid more than $800,000 to lawyers working for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The governor's office in the past has said there's no "surprise" that they "vigorously defend" Florida's laws.

Scott is currently defending himself against a lawsuit filed by Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala over the governor’s decision to remove more than two dozen murder cases from Ayala’s office.

Ayala, who said she will not pursue the death penalty in any case prosecuted by her office, claims Scott overstepped his authority by reassigning those potential capital cases to a neighboring state attorney.

Ayala, who has hired private attorneys, has already spent more than $316,000 in her litigation against Scott, a News 6 investigation revealed.

Scott is represented by his office’s in-house counsel and Florida’s solicitor general.

Ayala has not indicated whether her office will seek reimbursement for legal fees if she prevails in her litigation against Scott.

News 6 investigator Mike DeForest contributed to this report.