Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bill Introducing Reasonable Lawsuit Limits Advances

Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) today commended the House Civil Justice Committee for supporting legislation that will bring fairness to Florida’s justice system by introducing reasonable limits to lawsuits against nursing homes. House Bill 569 by Rep. Matt Gaetz, along with its companion Senate Bill 670 by Sen. John Thrasher, will ensure that those who need redress have access to the courts while ensuring that the rules are clear, especially for those having no influence over daily care decisions.

The legislation is the product of an historic agreement between FHCA, the state’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the residents under their care and the trial lawyer group, the Florida Justice Association, and is supported by AARP. It

“This legislation is about protecting nursing home care without sacrificing accountability, and we are extremely grateful to Rep. Gaetz and Sen. Thrasher for their leadership in bringing common sense to all sides,” said FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed. “It properly safeguards the interests of nursing home residents, while giving Florida’s many outstanding nursing homes the assurance that they can continue to provide a high level of care to their residents without fear of excessive litigation.”

The legislation will:
  • Ensure that residents can pursue lawsuits against those directly at fault for negative events, while preventing claims against passive investors – banks, creditors, property landlords and others - who have nothing to do with daily care decisions.
  • Give the Agency for Health Care Administrator the authority to revoke the license of any nursing home operator who doesn’t pay a final judgment, arbitration award or settlement and prevents operators from transferring that license to any related party during the judgment process.
  • Require the Court to hold a hearing and weigh admissible evidence before a punitive damage motion can move forward, clarifying the process without changing any standards.
  • Establish a workable framework for providing appropriate medical records to family members.
“This proposal fosters an environment that will pave the way for much-needed investment in our state’s nursing homes, allowing for facility enhancements, renovations and technology upgrades,” Reed continued. “At a time when aging baby boomers demand a more person-centered care facility, this is in the best interest of nursing home residents – as it should be.”

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