COVID-19 downfalls have been no stranger to small businesses across the state of Florida. Yesterday, in attempt to protect businesses from yet another hit from COVID-19, Senate Bill 72 was put to a vote and made it through the first round. If passed, SB 72 would protect small businesses from being sued by defendants in COVID-19 personal injury lawsuits associating with their place of business i.e. employees who contracted COVID-19 while on duty.
The decision to push SB 72 through the first round was not an easy decision and did not come quickly. In fact, the Senate entered into a two-hour debate that could go down as the “Saltshaker Debate”. Senator Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, noted that something as simple as a server’s failure to replace or wipe down a saltshaker between guests could lead to a restaurant’s demise. This argument came into play when senators on the opposing side of the bill wanted to remove the requirement for plaintiffs to show concise and clear evidence and replace it with evidence of simple negligence.
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Sen. Tina Scott Polsky, D-Boca Raton argued that Brandes’ saltshaker example was an unfair argument and law suits like that would not come up, but her words were not heard and the saltshaker example stuck with the committee for the rest of the debate including with those who started the debate on the opposing side.
The bill was also backed by some important organizations including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Retailer Federation and the Florida Justice Reform Institute.
If SB 72 stands, it would require any lawsuit that brings a COVID-19-related claim against a small business must be pled with particularity and must have an affidavit signed by a practicing physician with sufficient medical confirmation as to the specific cause of the injury, that is based upon a sound medical opinion. Any case will be dismissed if any of these requirements are not fulfilled.
Discussions are still in progress for the Commerce and Tourism Committee and the Rules Committee for S.B. 72 and a matching bill is, H.B. 7 is currently in the Pandemics and Public Emergencies Committee for further discussion.
If you feel that your case falls under SB 72, call our Florida personal injury lawyers today. At Ged Lawyers, LLP, our knowledgeable attorneys are dedicated to holding liable parties accountable for their actions and we will work hard for you to make things right. Call us today at (561) 995-1966 or contact us online at www.gedlawyers.com to schedule a free case review.