Immunity Bill for Florida Nursing Home Neglect “Coming Soon”

Lobbyists seek to immunize Florida's nursing homes from lawsuits due to COVID

Florida’s Nursing Home Lobbyists Sink to a New Low and Beg for “License to Kill” Seniors

Recently, a Florida House bill (HB 7) and Florida Senate measure (SB 72) contain COVID lawsuit protections for businesses. However, there is a carve out for healthcare providers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This means under HB 7 and SB 72, nursing homes and ALF’s are not afforded immunity if they negligently harm or kill residents.

Despite this, Florida’s Republican majority has promised to deliver an immunity bill for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This begs a bigger question; why give nursing homes immunity when they’ve handled the COVID pandemic so poorly? And why immunize negligent deaths, if there is no flood of COVID lawsuits pending against facilities?

The Nursing Home Industry Did Not Handle COVID Well

It is no secret that the nursing home industry was ill-prepared for COVID. This is why, in the U.S., our death toll in nursing home residents alone outnumbers most developed western countries. An even more glaring statistic; COVID deaths are not evenly distributed across all facilities. Less than 20% of skilled nursing facilities account for more than 65% of nursing home COVID deaths. This evidences that certain facilities handled the virus appropriately while a few bad actors were negligent, resulting in mass casualties.

Why immunize these bad actors? The civil justice system allows for financial disincentives to correct a for-profit nursing home corporation’s mistakes. Failure to comply with CDC guidelines is text book negligence. And under Florida’s proposed immunity for nursing homes, this negligence will go unpunished.

Remember, this is the same industry that ignored spending a few thousand dollars on emergency generators which resulted in the tragedy at Hollywood Hills during Hurricane Irma. This is the same industry that made a call to Florida Republican Rick Scott on his cell phone, before calling 911 to help distressed residents suffering from heat stroke.

“There is no good reason to spare nursing homes with death tolls like these from close scrutiny.” — Florida Today Editorial 

Manufacturing a Crisis — Firms in Florida Are Not Filing COVID Lawsuits in Large Numbers

Beyond the fact that nursing homes do not deserve a free pass for killing residents, there is no current onslaught of nursing home negligence lawsuits pending for COVID deaths.

The Republicans that control Florida’s legislature are finding a solution to a crisis that does not exist.

At Senior Justice Law Firm, we focus on Florida nursing home abuse litigation. Yet, as a nursing home focused firm, we have brought less than five COVID cases. Similarly, we are unaware of any Florida firm filing COVID cases en masse against Florida facilities. Simply put, there is no ‘wave of coronavirus cases’ coming against Florida’s nursing homes.

This is just a lobbyist excuse for civil immunity.

When Can We Expect to See a Healthcare Provider Immunity Bill in Florida?

No one knows for certain when we can expect the healthcare provider equivalent of HB 7 and SB 72. Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Brandes, a Republican out of Pinellas County, has been quoted as follows:

“There is an incredible amount of detail that needs to go into the health care [immunity] issue, and that needs to take a little more time . . . I can’t see Gov. (Ron) DeSantis allowing the Legislature to adjourn without a sufficiently strong health-care liability legislation.”

So we do not know when it is coming, only that Florida’s Republican Party will try.

Why Does the Nursing Home Industry Want Immunity in Florida?

The nursing home industry is hoping to take the proposed COVID immunity language and stretch it to include ordinary nursing home negligence cases, like those involving bed sores or broken hips.

They do this by using lobbyists to sneak in a broadly worded immunity bill which can be interpreted in their favor by Florida’s right-leaning appellate courts. Make no mistake; the nursing home industry will exploit this opportunity to broaden the immunity for any harm they caused during COVID, even if the injury claimed is not COVID related.

The end result? The Florida nursing home industry, which is historically troubled, will now have a license to kill without any kind of civil liability.

Say No to Nursing Home Abuse Find your Florida lawmakers now and urge them to say no to a nursing home immunity bill.

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