As Florida and other states phase in reopening, industry groups are stepping up their push to protect businesses, health care providers and nursing homes from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the wide-ranging legal liability that could grow out of the pandemic. And in Tallahassee, proponents are preparing legislation for when lawmakers are called back into a still-to-be scheduled special session.
“There has to be a forum to present the legislation, but we’re ready to go,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, chair man of the budget committee on criminal and civil justice.
But the Florida Justice Association, the state’s trial lawyer organization, said lawmakers should not fall for the latest round of demands from business groups seeking expanded legal protection.
The pandemic presents fresh challenges, said FJA President Leslie Kroeger, a Palm Beach Gardens lawyer, but it should not force anyone to lose their legal rights.
“I just see a huge gap,” Kroeger said. “The state and most businesses are talking about reopening safely. Then you have another group which is talking about how we’re intent on not going to get sued.
“To me, that suggests that if you’re already talking about not getting sued, maybe you’re not focusing on safety enough,” she added.
She called the move, “a grab.”
“It’s big business and their lobbyists just trying to promote tort reform and taking advantage of an horrific pandemic,” she said.
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