January 7, 2021
COVID Liability Protection Bills Filed in House and Senate
The Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives have filed identical bills to provide COVID liability for certain businesses.

Senate Bill 72 (SB 72) and House Bill 7 (HB 7) provide business entities, educational institutions, governmental entities, and religious institutions -- with the exception to healthcare providers -- immunity to COVID-related lawsuits. Legislative leaders report that protections for healthcare providers will be addressed in separate legislation that has not yet been filed.

HB 7 and SB 72 require plaintiffs in COVID-related cases to:
  • Plead with particularity. That is, to provide, with as much specificity as possible, the details of "who, what, when, where and why."
  • Provide an affidavit signed by a licensed physician attesting to the physician's belief, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the damages, injury, or death occurred as a result of the defendant's acts or omissions.

If the plaintiff does not meet these requirements, the legislation requires the court to dismiss the claim without prejudice.

The bills also require courts to determine whether the defendant made a good faith effort to "substantially comply" with government issued health standards or guidance in force at the time the alleged incident occurred. If the court determines the defendant made such a good faith effort, the defendant is immune to civil liability claims related to COVID. Admissible evidence will be limited to "evidence tending to demonstrate whether the defendant made such a good faith effort."

If the court determines no such good faith effort was made, the plaintiff will be allowed to continue with legal action. However, if the claimant is unable to provide "at least gross negligence proven by clear and convincing evidence," the defendant will not be held liable for COVID-related claims.

The statute of limitations on COVID claims is within one year of the alleged incident.

The next scheduled action on this legislation is slated for Jan. 13th in the House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee at 4 p.m. We will provide any updates after that time.

Links to the bills can be found below.