Florida Governor Supports Liability Protection
As we’ve reported over the summer, work has continued behind the scenes among some Florida legislators and other elected officials to craft a bill that would provide liability protection for businesses related to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Governor DeSantis has weighed-in, saying he would favor such a bill.
The Governor last week told reporters that fear of lawsuits is holding back the economy – specifically, businesses’ concern that they could be sued and found liable for an employee or customer contracting the coronavirus from their business. While noting that would be a difficult thing to prove, the Governor said the legislature could take up such a bill in a late November special session that’s he pushing to consider his disorderly protestors plan.
States across the country are increasingly looking at providing businesses some liability protection from COVID-19. Nevada recently passed first of its kind legislation to shield its casinos and hospitality industry from such lawsuits. The law requires those businesses to follow public health recommendations and provide free testing and paid time off to employees who test positive and are quarantined.
In Florida, where tourism and hospitality is the largest industry, state Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas) is continuing to work with colleagues and state cabinet members to draft a bill to provide protection for a broad range of businesses. The goal is to eliminate incentives for lawyers to engage in predatory practices, while still allowing legitimate lawsuits with clear reckless disregard to proceed.
The Governor’s comments came in the same week that he ordered Florida into the third phase of coronarvirus economic recovery, opening up all restaurants, bars, and other businesses to 100% capacity. He said the move was meant to ensure “business certainty” going forward. While Florida’s economic recovery continues, the latest report shows state tax collections were down 4.6% in August from August 2019 and unemployment at 7.4%.
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