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COVID Liability Immunity
Oppose Senate Bill 72 and House Bill 7005
Protect Florida Citizens From COVID-19.
Responsible businesses don't need immunity.
(Bill Numbers can change. As of now, Senate bills 72 and 74 have been combined into one bill, SB 72. On the House side, it is too early for us to know how it will be handled. They may simply take up the Senate Bill, or create their own version)
Write Your Legislators on S-72
FCAN testifies against Brandes SB 74 that removes liability for nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care providers if they negligently spread the COVID-19 virus. There are protections in the law now that should not be removed. People need protection from companies that cut corners and are careless, causing illness or death.
Testimony_of_FCAN_and_FPIRG_on_SB72.pdf in the Senate Judiciary Committee by Executive Director Susan McGrath opposing Senate Bill 72.
NEW FCAN Press Release opposing Sen. Brandes's new bill SB74 which removes liability for all health care providers including nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities. Read the release for more information.
FCAN_Testimony_on_HB_7_for_Pandemic_Committee.pdf House Pandemic Committee on Feb 3, 2021 by Executive Director Susan McGrath. McGrath said, "This bill goes too far. Our first responders and front-line medical workers who are taking risks to save lives deserve protections, but this legislation doesn't protect workers, it protects giant corporations. It blocks accountability for bad actors who decide to cut corners at the expense of their own workers and patients. When nobody is accountable, nobody is safe. HB 7 accomplishes one thing and one thing only: it places everyone else risk, both innocent workers and consumers as well as businesses that take reasonable care. When nobody is accountable, nobody is safe."
FCAN_testimony_on_SB_72_amendment_254800_by_Rouson.pdf FCAN supports this amendment by Senator Rouson which would improve the bill. We still oppose the overall bill.
With the virus surge, national political unrest, and economic disruption, everyone knows things are different and difficult. Don't make things worse!
That's one reason that House Bill 7 and Senate Bill 72, the Covid Liability Immunity bill, make no sense. The bills would exempt businesses from liability for inaction, negligence, or carelessness that exposes people to the COVID-19 virus, which, as we all know, can be lethal. Why?
The rationale given by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and others that support HB 7/ SB 72 is that there will be a "tsunami of frivolous COVID lawsuits" without this new law. The evidence does not support their speculation. There are very few lawsuits related to COVID -- the number is in single digits. Most COVID related lawsuits are businesses suing insurance companies over their business interruption coverage. (Who would have guessed?) Insurance companies have been denying business interruption claims based on COVID but the business owners thought they were covered. For instance, a restaurant might be hard hit by COVID and forced to shut down. If that isn't business interruption, they think, then what is? No businesses anticipated the virus.
Consumers at Risk
Employees, customers, and the public can all be exposed to COVID almost anywhere. but especially in places where precautions are not being taken and guidance from the CDC is not followed.
FCAN opposes SB 72 and HB 7 because they are an unnecessary, overreaching and harmful effort to make it harder for workers and consumers to seek justice when harmed through the failure of almost any Florida business or institution, as defined broadly by SB 72, to exercise reasonable care to protect against COVID-19.
It is an unnecessary measure because the lawsuit tsunami it claims has not occurred. Businesses are suing their insurance companies for COVID-19 claims related to business interruption, but consumers and workers are not filing COVID-19 lawsuits.
SB 72 is overreaching because the procedural hurdles it enacts both before a consumer or worker can bring a lawsuit and then to advance a COVID-19 claim are actually insurmountable barriers for consumers and workers. A case must both be pleaded in particularity and accompanied by a signed affidavit that attests to a qualified physician's belief, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that COVID-19-related damages, injury, or death occurred as a result of the defendant's acts or omissions. And even if that obstacle is somehow crossed, A “good faith” defense would establish absolute immunity? If the claim gets beyond that hurdle, it must demonstrate “at least gross negligence proven by clear and convincing evidence?”
Finally, it is harmful, because when nobody is accountable, nobody is safe. SB 72 protects wrongdoers and those businesses that would cut corners or act carelessly. Existing liability laws simply require businesses to take reasonable care. SB 7 accomplishes one thing and one thing only when it protects corner-cutters and wrongdoers: it places all others at risk, both innocent workers and consumers as well as businesses that take reasonable care. When nobody is accountable, nobody is safe.
Please vote NO on SB 72.