April 26, 2021: Written by: Christopher M. Leddy, Esq.
On March 29, 2021, Florida passed a bill (SB72) providing liability protections to various businesses with regard to COVID-19 exposure claims, joining a list of growing states, including, Michigan, Georgia, and Ohio, to pass some form of liability protection for businesses.
With specific regard to the Florida bill, in order for a plaintiff to bring a claim against a business for a COVID-19 related claim for damages, injury, or death, the bill creates a heightened pleading standard in that at the time of filing the complaint the plaintiff must also submit an affidavit from an actively licensed physician in Florida, attesting that, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the plaintiff’s claim for damages, injury or death occurred as a result of a business’s acts or omissions.
In addition to determining whether the plaintiff complied with the foregoing, the court must also make an initial finding as to whether the business “made a good faith effort to substantially comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance at the time the cause of action accrued.” Notably, not all issued standards or guidance must be complied with, so long as a good faith effort was made to substantially comply with one set of standards or guidance which were authoritative or controlling at the time the cause of action arose. If the court finds the business made the foregoing good faith effort, the business is immune from liability.