COVID Business Protection on Fast Track

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:58 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - A new report from Florida TaxWatch estimates that the state could lose hundreds of thousands of existing jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity if lawmakers don’t act to protect businesses from COVID-related lawsuits.

Lawmakers are moving quickly to enact safeguards.

St. Petersburg State Senator Jeff Brandes is leading the charge to protect businesses from COVID lawsuits.

“Any type of lawsuit would essentially drive them under, because many of them are teetering on the brink,” said Brandes.

The protections would be retroactive to March.

“We can’t have the threat of Covid liability suits hanging over the head of small businesses because it will destroy jobs and keep owners from opening their doors again,” said Brandes.

A new report released Monday by Florida TaxWatch shows Florida is third nationally in COVID lawsuits with 490 filed.

Only New York and California have more.

TaxWatch estimates that as many as a quarter of all small businesses wouldn’t survive without the protection.

TaxWatch estimates 356,000 fewer jobs and a $28 billion reduction in economic activity without protections.

“We need to make sure good actors are protected and bad actors are punished,” said TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro.

The legislation requires a case be plead with particularity. That means the who, what, where and when of the case.

A physician also has to sign off on the suit.

“And we think this is a step. That your physician, or any physician looks at the evidence and says, yes, it’s most likely you got it at this restaurant and not that you got it from your sister, who also has covid, and is staying with you at your house,” said Brandes.

The legislation requires a lawsuit to be filed within a year of being infected.

For existing cases, the clock starts the day the bill becomes law.

The House sponsor is Rep. Lawrence McClure of Plant City.

The legislation is expected to pass in the first or second week of the legislative session, which begins March second.

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