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Jimmy Patronis speaks during the Florida Chamber of Commerce Insurance Summit, Thursday in Orlando. Photo credit: Colin Hackley.

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Jimmy Patronis vows legislation combating ‘the constant threat’ of COVID-19 lawsuits

Suits would jack up insurance rates, Patronis claims.

Businesses in Florida are wary of legal exposure in the post-COVID-19 climate, but they have at least one prominent advocate in the Cabinet.

CFO Jimmy Patronis, a Republican serving his first full term in office, announced Tuesday his intention to push legislation that would protect businesses from the “constant threat” of lawsuits.

“We can’t allow our state’s recovery to be inhibited by the constant threat of lawsuits that will put people out of business and inevitably jack up insurance rates for people who are trying to make an honest living. I think it’s important that leaders take a stand sooner-than-later to make it clear to Florida businesses that we’ve got their backs,” Patronis said.

“This legislation will get Florida back to work by taking away incentives for lawyers to engage in predatory ‘sue and settle’ tactics, and shield small businesses from liability for COVID-19-related claims while still allowing legitimate lawsuits based on ‘reckless disregard for human life’ to move forward.”

The climate of litigation chills many business sectors. For example, doctors and nursing homes have been compelled to explore the previously unimaginable as both sectors clamor for immunity from liability.

The quotes are buttressed by some background reading from the CFO that delineates his position.

“Small businesses face many challenges in returning to work, including the threat of lawsuits from lawyers who are looking … to secure a payday from responsible business owners using ‘sue and settle’ tactics.”

“Left unchecked, COVID-19 lawsuits based on premises [of] liability and other theories have the potential to permanently shutdown cash-strapped businesses. Faced with the expense of defending a lawsuit, many businesses may be forced to settle a COVID-19 lawsuit instead of taking on the difficult and expensive task of proving through contact tracing that a plaintiff contracted COVID-19 elsewhere,” the CFO office adds.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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