Nursing Home Lawsuit Reform Passes Florida Senate Committee
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 20, 2013 – A bill that would make it more difficult to sue nursing homes passed a Florida Senate committee.
SB 1384, sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 7-2 vote. The bill would affect plaintiffs seeking to recover punitive damages from nursing homes. They would have to establish at an evidentiary hearing that the nursing home breached its legal duty, resulting in actual injury, loss, or damage.
“While some lawsuits brought against nursing homes, as in any field of practice, may be frivolous or unfounded, I think this bill is a misguided attempt at reform,” said Tampa nursing home abuse lawyer Robert Joyce. “If this bill becomes law, some perfectly valid and necessary lawsuits may be held up or even prevented from proceeding.”
Under current law, plaintiffs must present evidence at a pre-trial hearing, but need not prove that it is admissible. This presentation of evidence is called a “proffer.” Galvano’s bill would require a stricter hearing to vet the plaintiff’s evidence and would require the presiding judge to grant permission to seek punitive damages.
Galvano said that his bill prevents proffers on what may turn out to be inadmissible evidence or hearsay.
Before passing committee, the bill was significantly amended to remove a provision that made it more difficult to sue a nursing home’s parent company. Galvano said that in the spirit of compromise, he would not oppose the change.
The bill now concerns only punitive damages. Opponents say it still goes too far because a 2001 law set the bar too high already. That change requires 50 percent of punitive damages awarded against nursing homes to go to a state “quality trust fund.” Steve Watrel, an attorney in Jacksonville who opposes Galvano’s bill, said the change was a disincentive to punitive damage claims, and no such claims have been awarded since it was enacted.
Other opponents who urged lawmakers to reject the bill included the AARP and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.
Two more committees must approve the bill before the full Senate can vote on it. Its House companion bill is HB 869.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave,
Tampa, FL 33606
View Larger Map
- Auto Safety Institute Tests Frontal Crash Prevention Technology
Historically, vehicle safety technology has focused almost exclusively on preventing or minimizing injury or death in the event of a collision. Technologies such as antilock brakes and electronic stability control allow vehicles to automatically adjust braking and throttle in order to help drivers maintain control of the vehicle in the event of a loss of [...]
- High-Tech Safety Systems Promise to Cut Auto Accident Rates
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a plan to advance vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology. The technology would enhance safety by enabling vehicles’ onboard computers to communicate with each other in order to help drivers avoid collisions. The systems give drivers visible and audible warning signals when they perceive threats based on data [...]
- Florida pill mill doctor could face 350-year prison sentence
A South Florida doctor faces a maximum sentence of 350 years for his role in a Pompano Beach “pill mill.” A jury in Broward County convicted Dr. Thomas Rodenberg, 54, of 14 criminal charges. These included trafficking of oxycodone (a narcotic painkiller), racketeering, illegal delivery of controlled substances and conspiracy. In 2012, the U.S. Drug [...]