TAMPA, Florida – A bill to protect businesses from lawsuits related to people who contract COVID-19 is now law.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 72 on Monday, making it harder for people to sue institutions for breaking COVID-19 rules in a way that results in disease.
DeSantis said, “We don’t want to be in a situation where people are afraid of being sued just for doing normal things. ”
By law, Florida businesses, local governments, and healthcare providers will be spared coronavirus lawsuits as long as they can show they made a good effort to follow guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. spread of COVID-19.
In order for a legal action to proceed, a plaintiff would have to show that the defendant willfully ignored the guidelines. They will also need to submit a signed affidavit from a physician stating, with reasonable certainty, that the injury or death caused by COVID-19 was the result of the defendant’s actions.
Representatives of tourism-related industries say they are most exposed to such lawsuits.
“All of our businesses need some form of protection from frivolous lawsuits and that’s exactly what the legislature and governor said they were going to do,” said Carol Dover, Florida president and CEO. Restaurant & Lodging Association.
John Horne of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar added: “This will allow us to focus on our customers. This will allow us to focus on cleanliness and not worry about having to respond to a frivolous lawsuit. ”
However, not everyone is on board. Democrats oppose the measures, arguing that the law denies access to the courts for those severely affected by the disease who must travel to work in places that may consider themselves immune from the legal system as regards concerns COVID.
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“It essentially closes the door to courts and the justice system for workers who have been injured or may God forbid us killed on the job by COVID. It’s just totally unnecessary, ”said Rich Templin, director of policy and public policy for the AFL-CIO Florida.
Senate Bill 72 is the first bill the governor signed during the 60-day legislative session.
“We are delighted to be able to sign the bill. I think that’s common sense, ”DeSantis said.
The new law comes into effect immediately. It will apply retroactively to the onset of the pandemic and will give complainants one year to file claims.