DeSantis signs COVID-19 liability bill to protect Florida businesses
Florida businesses will now be protected from frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits.
Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that enacts a COVID-19 liability shield, protecting Florida businesses, governments and heath care providers from frivolous lawsuits related to the pandemic.
On March 26, the Florida House passed Senate Bill 72, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, on a 83-31vote – sending it to the governor’s desk. The governor signed the bill into law March 29.
The bill limits how a lawsuit related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be brought, giving breathing room to businesses and heath care providers as more Floridians return to routine activities. To bring a lawsuit against an entity, the plaintiff would have to show evidence the defendant not only ignored guidelines, but also provide a signed affidavit from a doctor stating that injury or death caused by COVID-19 was to a reasonably certain degree the fault of the defendant.
The law went into effect immediately and will apply retroactively to the beginning of the pandemic. SB 72 also sets a one-year deadline to file claims.
The Stand Up Florida community contributed to the groundswell of support for the bill, reaching out to their lawmakers to support the bill through our Take Action tool.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where people are scared of being sued just for doing normal things,” DeSantis said at the bill signing. “I think that the Legislature has been able to deliver today, so we’re excited about being here. We’re excited about being able to sign the bill.”
“I think it’s very common sense,” the governor added.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls also touted SB 72 as the best civil liability protection measure in the country.
“If you’re doing the right things, you’re protected,” Sprowls said at the press conference. “You’re protected and you have the most aggressive protection in America.”
The bills extend civil liability protections to businesses, local governments, schools, religious institutions, non-profits and health care providers who make a “good-faith effort” to abide by public health guidelines.
These protections aim to give businesses breathing room and stability in resuming services as an end to the COVID-19 pandemic comes into view.
“Florida businesses have been pushed to the limit unlike any other time in the last 100 years,” said state Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Hillsborough County. “We don’t want frivolous lawsuits affecting our businesses, adding another layer of uncertainty on them.”These protections will not only give businesses and other institutions the peace of mind and stability to stay open and in operation as the pandemic winds down and life returns to normal, but also protect the livelihoods of many thousands of workers across Florida.