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CFO Patronis to Pursue Business Liability Protections Next Regular Session

5/19/2020

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842

CFO Patronis to Pursue Business Liability Protections Next Regular Session
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced that in the next regular legislative session he will pursue legislation to establish liability protections for businesses. Accordingly, CFO Patronis is working with stakeholders to craft legislation that will head-off frivolous lawsuits in order to protect Florida’s economy and get Florida back to work.
 
CFO Jimmy 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. I grew up in the restaurant business and it’s hard to make a living on a normal day much less during a period of time when our state’s economy is trying to get back on its feet from the government shutdowns. 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.”
 
As CFO Patronis served on the Executive Committee of Governor Ron DeSantis’s Re-Open Florida Task Force, the CFO had access to testimony from business, association and elected leaders that expressed the need for liability protection. Based on the testimony, protections will be essential for businesses to comfortably operate in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFO has also spent extensive time talking directly with businesses and industry sector representatives from across Florida to better understand their needs and concerns, during this unprecedented pandemic, and this issue was routinely brought forward.
 
Small businesses face many challenges in returning to work, including the threat of lawsuits from lawyers who are looking to take advantage of the community spread of COVID in order to secure a payday from responsible business owners using “sue and settle” tactics. Left unchecked, COVID-19 lawsuits based on premises 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 contract tracing that a plaintiff contracted COVID-19 elsewhere.
 
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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).