Florida Enacts Covid Liability Protections

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs covid liability protections into law in the state which has seen a disproportionate amount of legal services ads related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the state of Florida took another strong step in improving its legal climate by signing covid liability protections into law.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who signed S.B. 72 into law yesterday, has been a strong advocate for legal reform as the state’s executive leader. S.B. 72, sponsored by Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas), will protect healthcare providers, individuals, businesses and others from frivolous COVID-19-related civil liability claims.

“We applaud Governor DeSantis, Senator Brandes, and all the legislators who worked across the aisle to ensure this important piece of legislation became law,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said. “The past year has been trying for the nation, but common-sense legislation like S.B. 72 will help put Florida on track for a healthy economic recovery.”

A study by the American Tort Reform Association found that between March and December 2020, more than 175,000 covid-related legal services TV ads aired in the U.S. at an estimated cost of $34.4 million. Florida accounted for approximately 20% of all local legal services TV ads and spending with a total of 34,321 ads at an estimated cost of $6.6 million.

Since last year, more than 9,500 legal complaints related to COVID-19 have been filed across the country. Of those, nearly 700 were filed in Florida.

Florida is the 30th state to pass COVID-19 liability protections and the 7th state to do so in 2021.

Since assuming office in 2019, DeSantis has appointed three of the justices currently serving on the state’s Supreme Court, effectively creating a new court whose decisions will far outlast his tenure in office. DeSantis has appointed a total of five justices, two of whom were subsequently appointed to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Florida was previously included in the American Tort Reform Foundation’s annual Judicial Hellholes® report. In 2019, it was removed from the “Judicial Hellholes” rankings and moved to the less severe “Watch List,” due in large part to the strides made by DeSantis and the newly-appointed Court.

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