Florida House passes bill granting businesses ‘broad immunity’ from COVID-related lawsuits

By

comment
House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor - PHOTO VIA FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  • Photo via Florida House of Representatives
  • House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor
The Florida House of Representatives giveth and taketh away.

The House on Friday passed a proposal (HB 7) that provides broad immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits to non-health care related businesses. But the Republican-led chamber also agreed last week to lift a 20-year-plus ban that prohibited other lawsuits.



Members of the House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee voted unanimously Thursday to advance a bill (HB 651) that involves medical malpractice lawsuits alleging wrongful deaths of single, childless adults. The bill would allow the parents of such adults to recover noneconomic damages from physicians and hospitals.

The unanimous vote shocked more than one legislative observer this week. It also sent some mixed messages to health care providers, who continue to wait for the Florida House to pass legislation to protect them from COVID-19-related lawsuits.



On that front, House Speaker Chris Sprowls told reporters Friday that lawsuit protections for health care providers remains a priority for his chamber but the House wants to keep the issues separate. Lawsuit protections for health care providers are contained in HB 7005.

That puts the chamber at odds with the Florida Senate, which, according to Sen. Jeff Brandes, will combine the liability protections for health care providers (SB 74) and lawsuit protections for non-health care businesses (SB 72) into one bill.

“I think the key is that we are focused on one singular issue,” Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, told the News Service of Florida earlier this week.

Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, doesn't seem convinced.

"We'll see how that goes," the speaker said Friday of the Senate's one-bill approach. "Right now, we've obviously sent them our business liability bill (HB 7). We have our health care bill moving. They have their business and health care bill moving. So we'll see where we are at."


Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.