(CNN) A month before Election Day in Florida a mysterious company called Proclivity, Inc. contributed $550,000 to a pair of newly formed political action committees in the state. #jeffdavislaw #jeffreyrdavis #coralgablesattorney
CONTEMPT OF COURT Like many who read the Oct. 29 article “Broward assistant public defender curses prosecutor on Zoom,” I was shocked. In 34 years of practice in courts throughout Florida, I have never once heard an attorney speak to a fellow member of the bar in such a manner — especially in open court before a judge and other litigants. It is beyond unacceptable and the attorney should be reported to The Florida Bar and sanctioned by the judge….
The Florida State Senate District 9 Race is shaping up to be the most expensive state race in this election. The Florida State Senate District 9 covers all of Seminole County and part of southwest Volusia County. The race is between Republican Jason Brodur and Democrat Patricia Sigman.
A dark money entity known as Floridians for Equality and Justice has been spewing false information in mass mailings. This mysterious entity lists its business address at a Miami UPS location (coincidentally, the same location used by two previous republican campaigns). This dark money group filed with the Division of Elections after it had already mailed out flyers and emails designed to smear Patricia Sigman. In one of the more egregious mailing efforts, this group unlawfully used State Senator Annette Taddeo’s image in a false information mailer. Senator Taddeo has hired Davis Law as local counsel to investigate the origins of this dark money mystery group. Despite having nearly a quarter of a million dollars in its bank account, there is no information yet on where this outfit gets its money or how much is being spent. The treasurer of this group, Stephen Jones, likewise remains an enigma. The phone number listed in the state filings, like the address are not traceable and no one knows who is behind this dark money scheme. This entity, Floridians for Equality and Justice has a website which is registered to a proxy company. It alleges that it “seeks to educate and highlight dynamic progressive issues across the state of Florida regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs or citizenship status”. The same “progressive” entity lists no members, has no contact information and only includes links to news stories. The progressive organizations which are mentioned on this outfit’s website include Equality Florida and Ruth’s List Florida. They have no knowledge of the group or its activities. Interestingly, this group’s listed address, 1421 S.W. 107th Avenue in Miami is actually a UPS store location that was also used in 2016 by republican State Senator Anitere Flores and in 2020 by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Jimenez.
Senator Annette Taddeo of Miami represents the 40th District encompassing Kendall and surrounding areas in southern Miami-Dade County. Despite Senator Taddeo being a strong supporter of candidate Patricia Sigman, the shadowy group, Floridians for Equality and Justice sent out mailers claiming that Senator Taddeo supported another candidate in the race and wrongfully used her photograph.
“I am outraged this organization would use my likeness to promote a candidate I do not support!”, declared Senator Annette Taddeo. “Patricia Sigman has my endorsement because she is the only candidate in this race who has a proven track record of fighting on behalf of central Floridians. Dark money attacks have no place in a democratic primary, and a real progressive would never resort to using dark money in an election.”
Senator Taddeo has hired Davis Law to assist Tallahassee lawyer, Mark Herron to investigate this dark money entity and expose the source of their money.
To commence the investigation, the lawyers filed what is known as a Pure Bill of Discovery. The pure bill of discovery is an ancient equitable remedy which seeks relief in the form of discovery. In this case, it was filed to obtain disclosure of facts within the dark money Defendant’s knowledge, including written materials and other documents in this entity’s custody or possession. This unusual tactic only seeks discovery – no other remedy unlike a normal lawsuit. In Florida the Pure Bill of Discovery dates back to the 1882 case of B.H. Thrasher v. Doig & Geiger, 18 Fla. 809 (Fla. 1882). In 1927, the legislature adopted former Florida Statute 90.17 and 90.18 which allowed for interrogatories and depositions in cases of law under certain circumstances. While these statutes were intended to be a substitution for the equitable bill of discovery, they were limited to discovery of “essential matters” not to make the “opposite party a witness to testify respecting the whole case”. See May v. Whitehurst, 144 So. 326 (Fla. 1932). Despite the current civil practice in Florida making it unnecessary to initiate a separate equitable action to obtain discovery, Florida has never abrogated the complaint for a pure bill of discovery. According to The Florida Bar, a complaint for a pure bill of discovery, while not obsolete, has limited use in today’s legal environment. It has said that this archaic device has its place in the toolbox of modern-day lawyers under limited circumstances. The action filed by Senator Taddeo seeking a pure bill of discovery against Floridians for Equality and Justice and Stephen Jones, as chairman and treasurer of a Florida political committee is a prime example of its applicable use.* Civil E-Filing: Filing # 111991126 E-Filed 08/18/2020 02:29:39 PM
So far, a return of service from the process server has indicated that the UPS store which this group claims is its address in State filings, UPS has no such record of the entity. Additionally, efforts to locate Stephen Jones have been unsuccessful.
Where did the nearly $250,000 for this committee come from? Who are the owners? Who are the people involved and why are they hiding? Was an entity related to the opposition candidate somehow involved? The search for the truth continues. Davis Law is proud to assist Senator Taddeo in her lawful efforts to pull this shadowy entity out into the sunlight. Transparency is essential for the political process to function.
As Patrick Henry famously said, “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”
Davis Law is proud to be associated with the search for truth!
DAVIS LAW is proud to announce a resolution of a diminished value automobile claim. The diminished value claim involved a car being worth less money, even after a repair, because it was in a crash. The law firm represented a client that had purchased a pre-owned BMW from a Miami car dealership. The car came with a 14-day return policy. 4-days after buying the car, the client was rear-ended, and the car sustained $16,000 in property damage. There was no injury claim made. The client contacted Davis Law to see whether a claim could be made for loss of value to the vehicle following the repair. The client claimed that he took the vehicle for repair to the dealership where he purchased it. The dealership explained the two-week return warranty was now void because of the crash and, that even though the vehicle was restored to its pre-accident condition, it now was not worth the same as it was pre-crash. The dealership explained that a Carfax would disclose the crash and that a potential future buyer would not pay the same amount of money for the vehicle as one that had not been in an accident. The car now had “stigma” damage and market psychology had lowered the value. The law firm researched Florida law and found that such a claim could be asserted against the at-fault party. At first, the insurance company for the careless driver denied the diminished value claim and said once a vehicle was repaired, they had no further responsibility. The law firm retained an expert witness in the field of auto appraisals. An automobile appraisal company can evaluate the minimum diminished value of a vehicle, following a crash. Typically, that analysis follows a detailed physical inspection of the vehicle, a review of all accident repair information and a comprehensive and thorough market analysis. The expert witness determines the minimum diminished value based on wholesale market pricing and the standard sliding scale established by the International Society of Automotive Appraisers or a fair market offer to purchase after the date of loss. Fair market value is the highest price on the date of the valuation that would be agreed to by a good faith buyer and seller. The replacement value of a vehicle is defined as the actual cost of exactly duplicating the vehicle as if it were subject to a total loss. The fair market value of the vehicle must be determined prior to the loss/crash and utilizes a method of valuation that involves current market data comparison supplemented by cost information. Carfax and Autocheck, the nation’s largest vehicle history report providers, buy their data from a variety of sources including police departments, fire departments, vehicle auction, insurance companies, departments of vehicle agencies, car dealerships, collision repair shops, car rental companies, and replacement part suppliers. In today’s digital world, crash reports and insurance repair histories are almost always captured by these reporting agencies and serve to notify a potential buyer of the car’s history. With this detailed information available to the average buyer, dealerships are now routinely providing a vehicle history or Carfax with every car they sell to avoid subsequent accusations of incomplete disclosure. Following a determination from the expert witness retained for our client, a significant loss of value or diminished value was placed on his BMW. The law firm then reviewed the state of Florida law and found no specific case, statute or rule that prevented the presentation of the diminished value case. The only cases which directly addressed such claims deal with people that are presenting a diminished value claim to their own insurance company. Most insurance policies do not cover their own insured for this type of loss. In the case of Rezevskis v. Aries Insurance Company, 784 So.2d. 472 (Fla. Dist. Ct. 2001), the appellate court determined that the insured (Rezevskis) could not recover damages for diminished value of his car following damage from hurricane Irene from his own insurance company, Aries. The court held that the insurance policy only had an obligation for repairs or replacement and not to restore the car to its previous value. This rule was similarly followed in Siegle v. Progressive Consumers Ins. Co., 819 So.2d. 732 (Fla. 2002), where the Supreme Court of Florida held that an automobile collision policy which provides that the insurer must repair or replace the damaged vehicle with other of like kind and quality, does not obligate the insurer to compensate the insured in money for any diminution in market value after the insurer completes a first rate repair which returns the vehicle to its pre-accident level of performance, appearance and function. These cases that prevent claims against one’s own insurance company (first-party claims) for diminished value also extend to prevent diminished value claims where a contract exists for repairs for real property. In Orkin Exterminating Co. v. Delguidice, 790 So.2d. 1158 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2001), the appellate court reviewed the trial court’s decision in a case where a homeowner sued Orkin for the loss of value to his home that had repeated instances of termite infestation that Orkin failed to resolve. The homeowner had a contract with Orkin that provided for Orkin’s termite treatment guarantee. The homeowner had sued Orkin claiming that the repeat instances of termite infestation severely diminished the value of his home. The Court held that the homeowner was limited to the specific remedies set forth in the contract that he had with Orkin and that Orkin was not responsible for the diminished value. These are first-party cases against companies where an insurance contract or other agreement exists. There is no such rule where the injury, loss or damage is caused by a third-party where no relationship or privity of contract exists. In the 1982 case of McHale v. Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co., 409 So.2d. 238 (Fla. 3DCA 1982), the Third District Court of Appeal held that it is not necessary to present evidence of market value of a damaged vehicle to prove a compensable claim based on a cost of repair theory. The court in McHale discussed what is known as the Restatement of Torts which is a treatise issued by the American Law Institute that summarizes the general principles of common law in the United States Tort Law. Section 928 of the Restatement of Torts provides for, “due allowance for any difference between the original value and the value after repair”. The court noted that compensation for repairs is an alternative method of proving damages which purposes to restore the injured party to the same position he was in prior to the injury. The court gave further detail which likely forms the basis for diminution of value claims in Florida. They stated, “the proper interpretation of the Restatement of Torts rule is that damages are not limited to the cost of repairs actually made where Plaintiff shows that the repairs did not put the property in as good a condition as it was before the injury. In such cases, the cost of the repairs plus the diminution in value will ordinarily be the proper measure of damages, with the burden on the Plaintiff to prove in addition to the cost of repairs, that he suffered the additional damage of diminution of value by virtue of the vehicle having been involved in an accident. That case doctrine allowed for the creation of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases Relating to Property Damage (501.2h) which clearly allows for the Plaintiff to claim “the difference between the value of the vehicle immediately before the incident complained and its value immediately afterward”. After a significant amount of litigation over whether or not the owner of the BMW had the right to assert a claim against the at-fault driver for the diminution of value of his vehicle*, the insurance carrier decided to pay 100% of the diminished value damages plus the costs of the litigation. *(There was no argument about the quality of the repair which the insurance company had already paid for.) If you are in an automobile accident involving a late model vehicle (less than 5-years old), your vehicle may still be worth less money because of the accident even with a first-rate repair job. Please contact Jeffrey R. Davis at Davis Law for a free consultation as to whether or not you have a diminished value claim for your vehicle. We are bilingual and available on a 24/7 basis. Our telephone number is (305) 577-3777 and our offices are located in Coral Gables, Florida; however, we handle cases throughout the state.
The Supreme Court’s Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19 has released its first video to help educate the public about the steps courts, clerks, and other stakeholders are taking to promote the health and safety of people visiting courthouses as the justice system returns to more complete operations.
The video, a minute-long public service announcement, emphasizes social distancing measures being implemented in courthouses across the state, the extra care being taken to continuously clean and disinfect courthouses, and the need to wear masks when doing business at the courthouses.
The video is being distributed to the 20 judicial circuits’ public information officers and clerks offices around the state to be posted on circuit websites and used on social media platforms. The video is a part of a broader communications campaign including social media messaging and graphics. The video also refers those who watch it to a newly created Steps2safeCourt.org webpage with further resources and links to local information where additional information about what to expect when visiting a courthouse may be found.
The video was produced by a collaborative group of staff from the trial courts, the Office of the State Courts Administrator, The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, and The Florida Bar.
“As with the workgroup itself, the different voices of our partners in the clerks’ offices and at the Bar improve this communications strategy and make it more likely to succeed,” said Judge Lisa T. Munyon, an Orlando circuit judge and chair of the COVID-19 Workgroup. “The public, and all our stakeholders, need to know what we’re doing to address health concerns as we expand operations. It’s critical the message get across, particularly as we prepare to return to jury trials. I think this goes a long way to help.”
Munyon said the network of communicators in the Florida Courts Public Information Officers are a real strength of the state courts.
“We speak with one voice in the judicial branch and with this collaboration we’re making that voice resonate even more,” Munyon said.
The communications subgroup is also establishing guidelines/best practices for the information to be provided to prospective jurors in summonses, on court and clerk websites, via public information campaigns by the courts, clerks, and the Bar on courthouse signage, and in court/clerk telephone recordings regarding the precautionary measures being taken to protect public health and safety.
Polk County Clerk and Comptroller Stacy M. Butterfield, CPA, a member of the COVID-19 Workgroup and president of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, said the clerks work closely with courts on so much, that this joint communications plan makes sense.
“We can amplify our message of preparation and access when we speak together with our partners,” Butterfield said. “Clarity and transparency are going to be essential as we begin the process of calling Floridians to jury service. We think this campaign with the Bar and the courts is a key part of getting our message out effectively.”
While jury trials remain suspended, pilot projects to test innovations in five circuits are set to begin soon. Chief judges may begin jury trials as soon as 30 days after judicial circuits successfully transition to phase 2 of reopening, as described in the most recent updates to orders from Chief Justice Charles Canady about expanded access.
A second animated video focused on instructions for those called to jury service is set to be released in early July. By then, a second round of social media messages and graphics about jury service will be delivered as well.
Spanish- and Creole-language versions of the videos are also being made with the help of staff in the 11th Judicial Circuit.
“We are stronger with one voice,” Butterfield said.
Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. is proud to announce the law firm has successfully resolved a lawsuit involving a falling gate that injured a young child. The five-year-old boy was playing in the yard of the house his parents rented when he slid a heavy metal gate open causing it to fall off its track. The boy tried to run as the gate fell but unfortunately it happened too quicklyand pinned him against the concrete driveway. He sustained a fracture that resulted in a two-week hospital stay. Fortunately, after several months of immobility, the boy was able to make a full and complete recovery.
In this case, the age of the child was a significant factor in assessing responsibility for the incident. In Florida, a child under six years of age cannot be held responsible for negligence. This means that no assessment of fault can be made against the child individually; however, his parents can be held responsible for failing to supervise. This law dates back to the Supreme Court case of Swindel v. Hellkamp, 242 So. 2d. 708 (Fla. 1970). That case involved a four-year-old child running into the street and getting hit by a car. The Florida Supreme Court stated; “In the absence of a legislative declaration, it is our opinion and we so hold, that the child herein involved and any other child under six years of age is conclusory presumed to be incapable of committing contributory negligence. This holding is compatible with the common-law rule that a child under seven is conclusory presumed to be incapable of committing a crime, inasmuch as a child must learn individual safety at an early age but social consciousness comes at a somewhat later age”.
The homeowner had no insurance. Apparently, the gate had been installed years before by a previous tenant and no permit was obtained. The owner of the property was advised by the tenant that lived in the house before the young boy’s family that the gate was not properly attachedand would fall when completely opened. Not only did the landlord not get the gate fixedbut they never warned the young boy’s parents about this problem.
During the lawsuit, the landlord blamed the young boy’s family for the accident and claimed that the child’s father was the one that installed the gate. Our lawyers were able to show through prior Google Street photographs, that the gate had been in existence for years.Our legal team also tracked down the previous tenant who had complained to the landlord about the gate not being safe. The case settled at mediation, right before trial for a confidential sum that will pay for all of the medical bills and provide for the child’s financial security once he is an adult.
At Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A., we represent victims of injuries caused by dangerous conditions on property. These cases, known as premises liability cases, often involve issues of construction, engineering, architectural design and property management. It is often necessary to work with experts in multiple fields in order to properly prepare premises liability cases for trial. If you have been injured because of a dangerous condition on a property, please call Jeffrey R. Davis, P.A. at (305) 577-3777. We are available on a 24/7 basis and are bilingual. All consultations are free of charge.
Litigation in the U.S involving business interruption losses (principally involving whether such losses have arisen in connection with physical loss to property, and whether various exclusions for virus and pandemic apply) is proliferating. Some of the recently-filed cases are noted below.
Five cases v. Travelers and CA Governor (CA) – Mark Geragos, his Los Angeles law firm and several other businesses have sued Travelers claiming the insurer is wrongly refusing to cover claims. The five suits accuse Travelers of failing to honor property insurance policies without a virus exclusion, and which should have been triggered when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an order closing nonessential businesses on March 15. The suits plead that the “currently raging pandemic” has caused real physical loss and damage around the world and that the CA Governor’s “stay-at-home” order has prohibited access to the properties. The plaintiffs do not expressly seek a ruling that the COVID-19 virus existed at any of the subject properties. It is unclear why the Governor was named as a defendant; it is possible he was named as friendly defendant to give him standing to make statements about why he issued the executive order and that he was concerned about property damage when he did so.
LH Dining LLC v. Admiral Ind. Co. (PA federal court) – A Philadelphia restaurateur alleges that orders closing “nonessential” businesses and dine-in services to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus triggered “civil authority” coverage of lost income under its commercia
Pandemic outbreaks are uninsured because they are uninsurable,’ contends insurance industry.
A once-bustling bar and grill tucked below a Michigan Avenue overpass famously inspired a “Saturday Night Live” skit starring John Belushi and Bill Murray. But the money the Billy Goat Tavern is losing during the coronavirus outbreak is no joke.
The tavern and millions of other shuttered businesses nationwide have turned to their insurers to help recoup their losses following state-mandate closures, which combined may exceed $300 billion a month. But insurers have widely rejected the claims, so the Billy Goat joined a growing line of businesses, including barbershops and casinos, suing insurers to force them to pay.
“These businesses are in the most trying times in their history and are going to their insurance company to get what they paid for,” said Chris Esbrook, a lawyer for the landmark tavern, which opened in 1934 and, as legend goes, cursed the Chicago Cubs.
Insurers say policies for natural or man-made disasters don’t cover virus outbreaks that bring economies to a standstill, and high-stakes battles in courtrooms coast to coast are sure to follow. What’s at stake could be the survival of thousands of businesses if insurers don’t pay and the insolvency of big-name insurance companies if they do.
“Pandemic outbreaks are uninsured because they are uninsurable,” David A. Sampson, president of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, said this month.
No revenue is flowing into the Billy Goat, which previously drew hundreds of tourists a day, including some who remember the best-known line from a series of late 1970s SNL skits in which restaurant staff rebuffs patrons ordering anything but the house specialties: “Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger! No Coke … Pepsi!”
As many as 30 million small businesses straining to survive with little to no revenue could submit virus-related claims worth up to $430 billion, the insurance association estimated. Those unprecedented numbers would be multiple times higher than claims following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The expectation is that insurers will continue to reject the vast majority of claims, triggering waves of lawsuits from businesses in nearly every town and city. Such a filing frenzy could add to logjams in courts when they reopen fully after the pandemic eases.
Among dozens of lawsuits filed to date is one by the Choctaw Nation casinos in Oklahoma and another by the Los Angeles law firm of celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.
“You pay insurance for decades for precisely the unthinkable, and when it happens these insurance companies do the unconscionable” by rejecting claims, Geragos told The Hollywood Reporter.
Forcing insurers to pay hundreds of billions of dollars a month could quickly deplete the $800 billion set aside to cover future home, auto and other losses, according to the insurance association.
The attorney for the Billy Goat, which expanded from its flagship site to include establishments around Chicago, says he has little sympathy for insurers.
“They are in the business of selling people insurance for exactly this kind of situation,” Esbrook said. “They can’t now cry they’re poor when the very situation they are insuring arises.”
President Donald Trump recently expressed sympathy for businesses asking insurers to pay up for business interruption coverage.
“When they finally need it, the insurance company says, ‘We’re not going to give it,’” he said at a coronavirus task force news conference. “We can’t let that happen.”
Similar conflicts are playing out in Europe and Asia, though they aren’t likely to see the torrent of lawsuits sure to come in the litigious United States.
The question on which many cases will hinge is whether the presence of the virus in or near a business can be categorized as direct physical damage, something that would otherwise be clearly covered. It’s a question courts haven’t definitively answered.
Proving a microscopic virus was ever even on a business’s premises, never mind damaged it, could pose a challenge to plaintiff attorneys.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week may have inadvertently helped business owners make their case when it upheld a state order closing nonessential businesses during the pandemic, likening the coronavirus to hurricanes in its ruling.
“COVID-19 pandemic is, by all definitions, a natural disaster and a catastrophe of massive proportions,” the majority opinion said.
Insurance companies say most policies that cover unanticipated interruptions to a business’s operations specifically exclude pandemics. Such exclusions became more common after a SARS virus outbreak in the early 2000s devastated businesses in parts of Asia.
A message seeking comment from the insurer the Billy Goat is suing, Society Insurance, wasn’t returned.
A note to policyholders on the website of Travelers Indemnity, the insurer Geragos is suing, reads like a blanket denial of virus shutdown claims because they’re “not a result of direct physical loss or damage.” It also cites virus exclusions in its policies.
But such exclusions don’t mean businesses don’t have valid claims, the business lawyers contend. They point to separate policy provisions requiring that insurers pay losses when civil authorities intervene during emergencies and order businesses to close.
The Billy Goat Tavern’s legal team says their case may be that much stronger because their insurer did not write in a virus exclusion and then still denied coverage.
Pressure on insurers isn’t only coming in the form of lawsuits.
State lawmakers, including in Illinois, New York and New Jersey, have proposed laws that would dictate insurers accept business claims for coronavirus damage, in some cases even if policies exclude pandemics.
Industry advocates say such mandates could drain insurance funds needed to pay claims during upcoming hurricane season and when other natural disaster inevitably strike. The laws, they argue, also would undermine the contract law upon which free markets rely.
“If elected officials require payment for perils that were excluded, never underwritten for, and for which no premium was ever collected, catastrophic results will occur,” said Charles Chamness, president of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
Reprinted with permission from The Associated Press.
Florida’s largest advocacy group for long-term care providers is requesting protection from lawsuits for health care professionals amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting “immunity from any liability, civil or criminal” under certain conditions for nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities. The group is the most recent in a series of health care associations seeking legal immunity during the coronavirus.
Florida has reported 962 cases of COVID-19 throughout the state’s 93 long-term care facilities. A recent USA Today Analysis of federal inspection data found that a majority of nursing homes (75%) in the U.S. have been cited for failing to properly monitor and control infections in the past three years. Nursing homes provide the ‘perfect-storm’ environment for COVID-19, putting residents at higher risk of serious illness with facilities that are not properly equipped to prevent disease and the spread of infection.
Georgia recently issued an executive order that provides civil immunity for health care institutions, medical facilities, and “auxiliary emergency management workers” defined as staff, contractors, and employees. This ‘legal immunity’ and protection from lawsuits protect the powerful and prevents patients and their families from obtaining justice, at a time when they need it most.
Members of the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) are requesting the same blanket immunity from lawsuits. The association sent a formal letter to the Governor requesting both civil and criminal liability that may result from caring for individuals with COVID-19. They are requesting immunity not only for nursing home workers but all healthcare facilities including nursing homes, hospitals, or assisted living centers, covering employees, volunteers, contractors, and home healthcare workers.
Nursing homes throughout the country are struggling to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many keeping their residents quarantined in their individual rooms. However, not all elderly patients are able to function independently in a closed setting.
For example, a patient suffering from dementia may not be able to keep his or her mask on and can easily fall if left alone. With dementia patients, it can be difficult to tell if they are infected, common symptoms include increased agitation. The constant care and supervision that many of these patients require put them at an even greater risk of contracting the virus from caretakers and staff.
Staff members who are asymptomatic can easily spread the virus to older individuals. Florida does not require nursing home facilities to tell families and residents when an employee or resident has gotten the virus or has died from it.
Concerns have been raised, regarding the healthcare industry’s requested immunity from these lawsuits. Florida recently lessened the requirements for new hires in these facilities. Staffing shortages have caused the state to waive fingerprinting requirements for background checks to get employees hired and working quickly.
The healthcare industry is not the only industry seeking immunity from lawsuits during this time, some of the major cruise lines and their legal teams have been working hard to have the courts allow them to not respond to filings against them.
Businesses fear opening up their storefronts and getting sued from customers who contract COVID-19.
For the second meeting of the state’s industries hit the hardest by a Florida economy reeling from COVID-19 lockdowns, talks shifted more to the outdoors, but businesses still want swift and clear action.
Dana Young, CEO of VISIT FLORIDA again led the panel, which on Wednesday focused on outdoor recreation, professional sports, theme parks and retail. The prior meeting, the day before, mainly focused on lodging and accommodations.
One shared concern raised by business interests is the fear customers could contract COVID-19 at their business and slap them with a lawsuit.
St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is writing up legislation for a possible Special Session or the 2021 Session to protect businesses against those lawsuits.
“Asymptomatic people working in their faculty could spread the disease and lawsuits could come from that,” he told Florida Politics.
AJ de Moya, with The de Moya Group, said businesses have never faced lawsuits for the flu or other diseases.
“I’ve got some friends of mine that run DOW 30 companies in Florida, and they are concerned that opening up their offices will put them at traumatic risk, and I think it’s really important and we protect this,” he said.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry spoke about his city’s decision to reopen beaches last weekend and to enforce the rules with megaphones and on carts, a minimalist method he said was working. Opening up a larger space could help give Floridians freedom to exercise and enjoy nature.
“I believe when you open your beaches or your parks, which we’ve also done, a dictator-style we’re going to come arrest you I don’t believe is the way forward,” he said.
Curry added that photographs taken over the weekend inaccurately portrayed a rush and crowding of people at Jacksonville Beach.
Beaches are open from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for recreation like swimming or taking walks. Sun bathing, laying out blankets and towels, chairs and grills are not allowed on the city’s beaches and groups must follow social distancing practices.
And Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein said the department was weighing the usual crowding at state parks before easing restrictions there.
John Sprouls, CEO of Universal Orlando Resort and executive vice president of Universal Parks & Resorts, said the parks planned to utilize space, health screenings and sanitation efforts to keep guests and employees safe.
“We have a greater ability to practice and enforce social distancing while still allowing guests to experience our parks,” Sprouls said, adding that resorts essentially have the same public services as cities, like medical services.
Universal Resorts plans to expand an existing virtual queuing app used at Volcano Bay and utilizing parks’ full acreage to promote social distancing. The queuing app piqued the interest of one airline industry representative on the call, who said airports could use such a service for security lines and boarding airplanes.
Originally, the PGA Tour planned to keep golfing going and open to the public with social distancing measures. But as federal and state officials began handing down advisories against massed gatherings, the final nail in the coffin for the PGA Tour was learning that Disney and Universal resorts, with swathes of open land similar to a golf course, were closing.
Len Brown, the PGA Tour’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, noted that its tournaments often benefit various charities that have also missed out the tour’s revenue. Golfing would begin June 8 under the tour’s current timeline.
The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League hope to resume the regular season over the summer, said Matthew Caldwell, president and CEO of the Florida Panthers. After a period of team training, the NHL hopes to resume the season in July.
Like during Tuesday’s meeting, Walter Carpenter with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) emphasized the need or small business employees to return to work. On top of reopening businesses, he emphasized the need for customers, products, services and loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“I think, as we move forward, it’s important not to overly regulate, not to be overly restricted,” he said.
With PPP loans only reaching 27% of Florida’s small businesses that have applied for funding, increasing funding and revenue is a necessity to keep businesses alive. According to an NFIB study, 15% of small businesses could not last more than a month without more funding and 35% could last one to two months.
Unlike other businesses and groups represented in the group of hardest-hit industries, Walmart is an essential business. On Tuesday, DeSantis pushed back against the essential versus nonessential services framing public health officials use, instead elevating the importance of risk levels.
“The more and more I go through it, I think think that that’s an illusory distinction,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s terribly helpful even when you’re talking about a pandemic.”
Walmart is asking employees and customers to wear face masks, using Plexiglas barriers and using floor decals to reinforce proper social distancing measures. It has also boosted the number of employees to help restocking and sanitization.
“The creation of industry standards that can be communicated across the state to inform our employees and our customers will be very helpful,” said Monesia Brown, Walmart’s director of public affairs and government relations.
And with employees who have been shut out from work or are afraid to go back, businesses raised mental health and framing the reopening as a good thing as important for employees’ mental health. Dr. Lillian Rivera, a former health officer at the Miami-Dade County Department of Health, said county health departments can help connect businesses to resources and services to get employees the help they need.
Jeff Davis Law P.A.
Personal injury law is our main practice. Personal injury cases arise when the tortious action or inaction of a person or corporate entity causes harm to another individual. “Tortious” acts may be based on negligence, recklessness, intentional acts, or even strict liability in certain cases (such as abnormally dangerous activities and defective products).
Accordingly, the firm handles a wide range of cases involving accidents, medical malpractice, insurance disputes, products liability, and premises defects. For specific areas please browse our complete list of practice areas.